Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)

The year 1995, when I started to work with the local communities of Ikuno (Osaka), Kansai region was badly hit by a strong earthquake. At the time, new ways of building communities and the local activities of assistance, based in the central relief center of Takatori (Kobe), were considered a model case for "living together" by Church and the outside media.
This, I think, was the result of the fact that, quite often, Koreans living in Japan and Japanese were not able to live together those days. In case their relationships were going smoothly there should be no reason to bring up the new situation as a model case.
While living in Ikuno I received the same impression. About 45,000 Koreans, out of a population of 150,000, were living in that area, but in spite of that, no Korean was elected as a PTA member of the local Primary Schools and discrimination and prejudices with regard to Korean culture education continued. In short, the public protests of Koreans living in the Ikuno region and their supporters, for the defense of the rights of the Koreans, gave a totally different image from that model type of "living together."
But, the times were changing. The main factors that provoked change were, the diversification and normalization of voluntarism after the great earthquake, the fast propagation of mobile phones and of the Internet and should be also added that, the new generation of the Korean growing communities started to go at unison with modern times.
Right after the earthquake, experienced volunteers from citizen's groups and local people that worked as relief volunteers during the disaster joined the activists in the activities in Ikuno with Koreans living there and played the role of switching the points of view of the movement. The spread of mobile phones and of the Internet made it possible to exchange immediately information between Ikuno and other places in Japan and around the world. As a result, the new generation of Koreans started to act differently from first and second Korean generations.
Third generation Koreans, while continuing the fight against discrimination and prejudices that occasioned so much suffering to the first and second generations during their lives, seem to search for new ways of involvement. But, when it comes to the 4th generation, will they break away from the feeling of "bitterness" that the former generations transmitted to them or, rather acting with the help of a different concept, as it often happens now, will they not think that that will not be enough from now on?
As an example, the Ikuno cultural ethnic festivals tried to help them to recover their identity and culture and became instruments to express the feelings of Koreans living in Japan under oppression. On the other hand, the new generation stressed the need of holding festivals that show an image different from the old ones. This voice has grown and the numbers of people wanting new festivals has increased in such a way that, last year, the Ikuno ethnic festivals drew down the curtain after 20 consecutive years.
Again, the abductions by North Korea in the past provided an excuse to the violence and harassment done to the children of Korean schools. When the situation calmed down, the victims spoke the following way at public rallies for human rights: "Dialogue is needed," "We, victims of violence, must also put an end to violence." So far, the usual reaction to discrimination has been one of public protest, but when we observe that suffering victims express sentiments similar to those of Nelson Mandela during the apartheid period, one has the feeling that the new generations take a different stand, or maybe better that times have changed.
Although Japanese Korean relations, compared to former times, have become more friendly following the "bright sun policy" and the World Cup, nevertheless prejudice and discrimination are still alive. On the other hand, in spite of all hardships not everything is antagonism. As I have already mentioned with regard to new thinking ways, if there was a move to desire a true mutual understanding, Japanese and Koreans could really live together and then, I feel that, the new generation of Koreans will be given a great opportunity to play an important role.

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