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Burakumin ( "tribal people"?) are a Japanese social minority group. The burakumin are one of the main minority groups in Japan, along with the Ainu of Hokkaidō, the Ryukyuans of Okinawa and Japanese residents of Korean and Chinese descent.

The burakumin are descendants of outcast communities of the feudal era, which mainly comprised those with occupations considered "tainted" with death or ritual impurity (such as executioners, undertakers, workers in slaughterhouses, butchers or tanners), and traditionally lived in their own secluded hamlets and ghettos.

They were legally liberated in 1871 with the abolition of the feudal caste system. However, this did not put a stop to social discrimination and their lower living standards, because Japanese family registration (Koseki) was fixed to ancestral home address until recently, which allowed people to deduce their Burakumin membership. The Burakumin were one of the several groups discriminated against within Japanese society.

According to a survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 2003,[1] 76% of Tokyo residents would not change their view of a close neighbor whom they discovered to be a burakumin; 0.5% of respondents, on the other hand, would actively avoid a burakumin neighbor. There is still a stigma attached to being a resident of certain areas traditionally associated with the burakumin and some lingering discrimination in matters such as marriage and employment.

The long history of taboos and myths of the buraku left a continuous legacy of social desolation. Since the 1980s more and more young buraku have started to organize and protest against their social misfortunes. Movements with objectives ranging from "liberation" to encouraging integration have tried over the years to put a stop to this problem.


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