A Letter for IOC members (in English)


A Letter for IOC members (in English)


7th June, 2019

Dear Mr./Ms.:
 
 We, the Japan Network Supporting Korean Schools, are a civil society organization working to resolve discrimination against Korean schools in Japan. We wish to express our respect for the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s tireless efforts to promote the values of Olympism which include promoting a society without discrimination. We are writing to bring to your attention the discrimination against Korean schools by Tokyo and the Japanese government who are the host city and host country for the 2020 Olympic Games. As preparation for the 2020 Games is underway, we request your support in eliminating discrimination against Korean schools which is contrary to the Olympic spirit.
 
Discrimination against gold medalist Son Ki-jeong at the Berlin Olympic Games

 In relation to discrimination by Japan in the context of the Olympic Games, we must touch upon the story of a Korean athlete.
 Japan colonized Korea in 1910, and at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, as a Japanese subject a Korean marathoner named Son Ki-jeong (1912-2002) won the gold medal for Japan. When Son Ki-jeong returned in triumph to Seoul, Korea, the Japanese authorities who feared that it may instigate an independence movement arrested Son Ki-jeong and prohibited Koreans from holding welcome events and celebrating his great achievement (see appendix 1). Later, Son Ki-jeong sought to study sport coaching in Japan, but was unable to find a university that would accept him until Meiji University offered him admission in 1937. Moreover, since the Japanese government had required him never to compete in running, he could not participate in the Tokyo-Hakone collegiate marathon (Hakone Ekiden) which has a long-standing history.

 Later, Son Ki-jeong ran as the final torchbearer for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, and contributed to bringing about the 2002 FIFA World Cup co-sponsored by South Korea and Japan. When he died on November 15, 2002, his funeral in Seoul was attended by colleagues from all over the world, except for those from Japan. No one from the Japanese sporting world including the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) attended the funeral, nor sent flowers nor condolatory telegrams. It was not until his alma mater Meiji University held a private Memorial on December 21, 2002 that relevant parties finally attended.
 
Resident Koreans and Korean schools directly affected by hate speech

 To provide a more general background to discrimination against resident Koreans in Japan, here are some key historical facts.

 Japan was occupied by the United States from August 1945 to April 1952. A report for the Occupation Forces titled “Aliens in Japan” noted that:
 the Koreans, with few exceptions, are a distinct minority group, with a low social position. They are looked down upon by the Japanese and were scapegoated on at least one occasion when national disaster struck Japan (R&A Report No. 2690 Aliens in Japan, June 1945, p. 14).

 The atrocity mentioned here is the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 when approximately 7,000 Koreans were murdered by Japanese.

 In September 2002, Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as the first Japanese prime minister to ever do so, and signed the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration with Chairman Kim Jong-Il. On Koizumi’s visit, DPRK apologized for abducting Japanese citizens. This apology soon incited hate crimes against Koreans in Japan. The situation was so alarming that it lead to an unusual warning by the Human Rights Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Justice that “following the Japan-DPRK summit meeting where the abduction issue was discussed, harassment, threats and assaults to Korean Schools and resident Koreans have been reported; these incidents may not be tolerated from a human rights standpoint.”
The trend continued. In 2005, hate-inciting cartoon books against resident Koreans were published, and in December 2009, the Kyoto Korean School was attacked by racists. The term “hate speech” was nominated for a buzzwords award for 2013. In February 2018, right extremists fired shots into the headquarters of the General Association of Korean Residents located at the center of Tokyo.
 
Ongoing discrimination against Korean schools by Tokyo

 Amidst this wave of discrimination against resident Koreans, in 2010, the Tokyo Governor and right-wing politician Ishihara Shintaro suddenly halted subsidizing ten Korean schools in Tokyo. All subsidies for foreign schools are based on the Private Foreign School Management Subsidiary Guideline whose appendix lists 28 foreign schools in Tokyo, including the Korean schools. However, the ten Korean schools were explicitly excluded during Governor Ishihara’s term without any adequate explanation, even though the Korean schools had done nothing unlawful. His successors have followed suit.

 A student at a Korean school wrote as follows regarding Tokyo’s policy to eliminate Korean schools from providing subsidies.

 I felt as if our normal school lives to learn our own language, culture and history, and to laugh with friends, were completely denied. What harm have we done to the Japanese society? We were born as Koreans and our parents let us attend Korean schools so that we could live as Koreans. Why is it that only we are discriminated against?

 The suspension of subsidies to Korean Schools has been criticized by various third party institutions. The presidents of the Tokyo Bar Association and Japan Federation of Bar Associations issued a formal statement on April 22, 2016 and on July 29, 2016, respectively. The statements declared that Tokyo’s policy vilolated children’s right to ethnic education and requested that the subsidizing of Korean schools be resumed. Further, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has issued a recommendation to correct this issue, as discussed in section 4 below.
 
CERD recommends against Japan’s discrimination of Korean schools

 Discrimination against Korean schools continued on the national level. Japan enacted a statute in April 2010 to introduce a program to waive tuition for public high schools and provide tuition support to private high schools (Tuition Waiver Program). Although 43 foreign schools have qualified for support under this Program, the ten Korean high schools were excluded.

 On August 21, 2014, Japanese officials argued before the CERD that “Korean schools did not meet those administrative criteria as they had close relations with an organization linked to the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which was influencing the content of their curricula, administrative affairs and finances. Funding would be granted to those schools if they adapted their administration and management to meet the criteria defined in national law…” (CERD/C/SR.2310).

 This explanation was contradicted by Mr. Shibayama Masahiko, the Minister of Education and Science, who stated at a session of the Education and Science Committee of the House of Councilors on March 19, 2019, that the Koreans schools were not eligible for the Tuition Waiver Program whether or not their management was appropriate.

 In its concluding observations issued on September 26, 2014, the CERD “encourage[d] [Japan] to revise its position and to allow Korean schools to benefit, as appropriate, from the High School Tuition Support Fund and to invite local governments to resume or maintain the provision of subsidies to Korean schools. The Committee recommend[ed] that [Japan] consider acceding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960)” (CERD/C/JPN/CO/7-9, par. 19).
The CERD repeated its recommendation on August 30, 2018, in its concluding observations, stating that “[t]he Committee is concerned that several recommendations from its previous concluding observations (CERD/C/JPN/CO/7-9) remain unimplemented” (CERD/C/JPN/CO/10-11, par. 5). However, the Japanese Government has refused to follow the CERD’s recommendations on the basis that they are not binding.
 
Discrimination against the National Olympic Committee of DPRK (DPRK NOC) regarding the release of IOC extranet credentials

 We must also point out that the DPRK received discriminatory treatment in relation to the preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Organising Committee) issued identification names and passwords to the National Olympic Committee of each country to allow them access the IOC extranet. However, it took four additional months and repeated requests by the Korean Physical Education Association in Japan for the Organising Committee to issue an identification name and password to the DPRK NOC. The Organising Committee cited technical problems for the delay. On March 10, 2019, Kyodo News and other media reported the issue, leading to criticism that it was political intervention in sport. Eventually, on March 12, the Organising Committee issued the extranet credentials. According to an article in the Sankei, the Organising Committee was conferring with the Japanese Government out of concern regarding conflict with the sanctions against the DPRK. As a result of the delay, the DPRK NOC missed the early ticket application deadline for February 2019. This appears to be another example of political intervention with the intent to discriminate against the DPRK.

Conclusion

 In an editorial titled “Students are not political pawns” dated April 12, 2013, the Japan Times, a reputable English-language newspaper, put its finger on the issue:

 Several prefectural governments have stopped subsidizing pro-North Korean schools. On February 20, 2013, the Abe administration excluded pro-North Korean high schools from the government’s tuition waiver program. These decisions should be reversed. It is wrong to use children as political pawns, and doing so will only fan anti-Korean discrimination in Japan. (see appendix 2)
 
 Our immediate goal is to have (a) the Japanese government apply the Tuition Waiver Program to Korean schools, and (b) local governments resume subsidizing the Korean schools. We hope the hosting of the Olympic Games will be an opportunity to reverse the current policies and move towards eliminating discrimination against Korean schools. While we will continue to do everything in our power to bring about this change for the happiness of Korean children, we respectfully request that the IOC members understand the situation and voice your concerns regarding the discriminatory policies taken by Tokyo and Japan against Korean schools.
 
Long live the Olympic Spirit! 

Sincerely,

Fujimoto Yasunari, Executive Director
Japan Network Supporting Korean Schools
mushokashien@yahoo.co.jp

Appendixes
Mr. Son Ki-jeong restrained by police with a saber and plainclothesman as he arrived in Yeouido Airport in Seoul on the 8th, October 1936. 
(Source) “Biography of Son Ki-jeong”, Terashima Zenichi, Shakaihyoronsha 2019

The Japan Times, editorial (April 12, 2013)
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/04/12/editorials/students-are-not-political-pawns/#.XPdiGnduJ9A



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