Das buraku-Problem in der japanischen Literatur am Beispiel der Erzählungen von Tokuda Shūsei und Shimizu Shikin
The buraku issue is one of the social problems treated in Japanese literature. Between the beginning of the Meiji period and the start of the World War II, about 100 literary works were produced that in one way or another touch upon the buraku problem. There have been quite a few socio-historical studies of this minority group. However, with a few exceptions, such as Hakai (The Broken Commandment; 1906) by Shimazaki Tōson, the buraku problem in Japanese literature has so far not been subjected to a thorough analysis in the field of Japanology, either inside or outside Japan. This article analyzes the treatment of the burakumin in two representative writings: Imin gakuen [A School for Emigrants; 1899] by Shimizu Shikin and Yabukōji [Wallflower; 1896] by Tokuda Shūsei. It is argued that the intentions of the authors, who were driven by social concerns, show up only in a superficial sense of compassion. The underlying psychological structure of their approach basically manifests the common prejudice against this minority group. In conclusion, the article addresses the seven volume novel Hashi no nai kawa (The River with no Bridge; 1959-) by Sumii Sue, which can be taken as a contemporary example of a different treatment of the buraku problem.