This year, the summer gathering of the Catholic Committee for the solution of the Buraku problem, was held in the Catholic Center of Nagasaki, under the presidency of Archbishop Francis Xavier Shimamoto, with the attendance of about 50 members. On the first day, after the welcome greetings by Archbishop Shimamoto, there were two speeches by members of the Center for the Study of the History of the Buraku in Nagasaki. Mr. Kan NAKAO gave a moving talk about his own experiences and Mr. Shigeyuki  ANAN centered his talk on The History of the Buraku in Nagasaki and the actual situation of the liberation movement. After that there were group discussions, followed by a general meeting.
On the second day there were two talks, one by myself, on The Buraku Problem in the Kirishitan Jidai, and another by Fr. Masaru OTA, of the Little Brothers, on The Christian Faith and the Buraku Problem. The meeting ended with a concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Shimamoto in the Urakami Cathedral. In the afternoon there was an optional tour of places connected with the history of the Buraku in Nagasaki.
I would like to present here some notes about the history of the segregation problem and the Catholic Church in the Kirishitan Era (1549-1873).
All the first missionaries came to Japan after some experience in India with the mentality of Europe at that time, which in some points was near the Japanese social class division, e.g. fidalgo equal to samurai. But missionaries, at the same time, found in Japanese society various groups of segregated people: lepers and slaves forced to live outside the town; Koreans (after the invasion of Korea by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1592-1598), and the hisabetsu (segregated) buraku. Missionaries started to work in all those fields, following the Christian practice of the 'Works of Mercy,' as they were written in the Catechism, and included in the Dochirina Kirishitan , but, soon, we also find in the work of some missionaries the intention of correcting customs they deemed contrary to the doctrine of Christ.
For instance, in Yamaguchi, at the time of the rebellion of Sue Harutaka, it was not unusual to find people dead in the roads. Then Fr. Cosme de Torres used to ask the Christian Samurai to bury with their own hands the bodies of those unknown people in the cemetery of the Church. The same idea can be seen in the beginning of the orphanage and hospital in Oita. The Confraternity of the Misericordia was a good help when dealing with cases of people illegally sold as slaves.
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Missionaries presented clearly, even to the first Christian Lords, the doctrine of the equality of all before God. At the same time, they show the mentality of their times when, speaking about the social position of somebody, they use the words 'mibun ga hikui,' 'iyashii mibun'(low social class). Of course, as people had just arrived, and were in many places persecuted, they were unable to stand in favor of the customs of the people.
In Nagasaki, as soon as the new harbor-town started to flourish with the Portuguese and Chinese commerce (1571), we find a typical
'buraku.' They were living together and their district was called 'Cauaya Machi' (tanners' town), since their main income was to import deerskins and to tan them. The skins were first imported from Manila, but later on from Vietnam, Cambodia and China. The name 'Cauaya' appears already in the Portuguese-Japanese Dictionary printed in Nagasaki in 1603:
Cauaya: casa do corriero, ou capateiro que faz 'tabis' (a tanner's house or a shoemaker who makes Japanese socks).
Cauaya: homen que tem por officio esfolar bestias mortas, ou bois, e faz 'cauagos' (people who skin dead animals and do leather work).

Seven years after the edict of Tokugawa Ieyasu, e find the following in a letter (1621) of Fr. Joao Baptista Baeza to Fr. Morejon:
Feizo mando recado a os de Cauaya machi pera que amarrasen a os martyres, mais elhes le dixero que nao querian, y nao he esta a primera vez que responden desta manera. (Feizo sent a message to those living in the tanners' town to seize the persecuted Christians, but they refused to do it. This is not the first time they react that way).
Desta y de otras maneras facen mirabilia estos cristans, ainda que saben que os han de cortar y queimar primeiro que facer hum pecado. (These Christians are really wonderful. They are ready to be cut and burned before committing a sin).
In another document we find a moving story, when the leader of a
'cauaya,' a wealthy man, was called to the house of the Governor, for the same reason. In the documents of the Dominican missionaries, it is written how some of them used to go to Cauaya machi to celebrate Mass in a small church built there. Those and other testimonies tell us that a good number of the people living in Cauaya machi were Christians.

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We do not know if, later on, there were martyrs among them, although there is strong possibility that some of the people in the ship of Joachin Diaz Hirayama were from Cauaya machi. The ship was taken by the English-Dutch-fleet on its way from Manila to Nagasaki. On the ship they found two missionaries disguised as Spanish gentlemen and took the ship to Hirado, put the two missionaries in the prison of the Dutch settlement and accused them to the Governor of Nagasaki. The cargo of the ship was deerskins. All the men in the ship were Christians: some were sailors, other merchants, and among a few people working there, there was a Korean. All of them were executed in August 19, 1622, in the hill of Nishizaka (Nagasaki) and have been beatified by the Pope.

Next to Cauaya machi was Corai machi, inhabited by Koreans taken as prisoners during the invasion of Korea by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, brought to Japan as slaves and liberated thanks to the decree of Bishop Dom Luis Cerqueira, on the 4th of September of 1598. Bishop Cerqueira had arrived to Japan in the summer of the same year. When he saw in Nagasaki the sad situation of those slaves called a meeting of the main missionaries, Fr. Valignano among them. After getting well informed, he declared that since the war against Korea was unjust, all prisoners should be granted freedom. Then, he ordered the Portuguese and the Japanese Christians to free them, under punishment of excommunication.

Such decree was published when Hideyoshi was still alive. Many of those liberated Koreans settled in Nagasaki, and little by little they too become Christians. In their village they built a small church, dedicated to St. Lorenzo, blessed by Bishop Cerqueira in 1609. During the persecution years, they gave shelter to the persecuted missionaries, and a few of them became martyrs.
For the lepers there was in Nagasaki 'St. Lazaro Hospital,' under the management of the Confraternity of the Misericordia, and another with the same name in Urakami, this one under the care of the Jesuits. In Kyoto St. Peter Baptista and his companions received them in Horikawa machi, and later on in Asakusa in Edo. Not a few of the converts in this second place became martyrs, and Tokugawa Iemitsu exiled many of them to Manila. Probably St. Lazarus of Kyoto, executed in Nagasaki in 1637, who came from Manila with the Dominicans, was one of those exiles. When the last Jesuit Vice-Provincial, Fr. Couros, died in Fushimi in 1632, his last refuge was the hut of a Christian leper.

In 1648, the Bugyo of Nagasaki, at the instance of the bonze of Daion-ji, relocated the inhabitants of Cauaya machi to Nishizaka, to execute them and later on, in 1718, to Magome, near Urakami, for the vigilance of the Christians of Urakami.
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This town at that time was part of the Omura Territory. In 1868, the Cauaya were used for the imprisonment of the Christians of Urakami during the so-called Urakami Yonban Kuzure . They did this only forced by the Governor. All this created an atmosphere of fear and distrust. The Christians of Urakami, even after they came back from the prisons, were discriminated against, on account of their faith, till the end of the last World War.
The Atomic bomb leveled the town of Urakami and the settlement of Magome. From the ruins emerged a new town, and the old problems disappeared, at least outwardly. Now the relations became normal. Nagasaki is one of the Prefectures of Japan where the problem of discrimination is less apparent. The roots of the problem are deep, and a few million innocent people are, even now, suffering from that discrimination. Thus, the Summer Meeting of this year was a good occasion for the Christians of Nagasaki to look at the problem, as a challenge to our sense of faith and justice. The sons of the persecuted Christians, should reflect -- with a little change of words -- on the advice of God to the people of Israel:
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Ex. 22, 20)

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