OSAKA, Japan (AP) _ U.S. civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson protested Japan’s treatment of minorities and foreigners on Wednesday, and called for fair trade between Japan and the United States.
Jackson joined 150 people demonstrating outside Osaka City Hall for changes in the country’s Alien Registration Law.
It requires that foreigners, including those born in Japan, be fingerprinted and carry alien registration booklets.
″The challenges now for Japan are fair treatment for all people at home and fair and reciprocal trade with people around the world,″ Jackson told reporters.
After visiting an Osaka day-care center in Nishinari, Japan’s largest minority neighborhood of 40,000 residents, he said, ″It is not right for a society to condemn those children to become second-class citizens. ... A great society cannot have an economic surplus and a moral deficit.″
Among its 121 million people, Japan has an estimated 1-3 million burakumin, members of a former outcast class, about 680,000 ethnic Koreans, many of them born in Japan, and 24,000 Ainu, an indigenous people who live mainly on northern Hokkaido island. All claim they face discrimination in employment, marriage and other areas.
Jackson, who ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1984, is in Japan for five days heading a delegation of minority businessmen and Asian-Americans meeting Japanese government and business leaders and human rights organizations.
Referring to controversial remarks by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone about U.S. minorities, Jackson said, ″We are behind not because of a lack of intellect as Mr. Nakasone implied, but because of a lack of fair treatment.″
He said Nakasone ″projected that Japan is a homogeneous society. But he made no mention of the reality of the burakumin people, the Ainu people and the oppressed Koreans in Japan.″
Nakasone was quoted Sept. 22 as saying that Japan had a high intelligence level because of its homogeneity while ″on the average, the United States is lower because of a considerable number of blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans.″
Jackson’s delegation is to travel Thursday to Hiroshima, one of the two Japanese cities hit by atomic bombs at the end of World War II, and is scheduled to leave Friday for South Korea.