About 30,000 of Japan's "social outcasts" marched through the streets of Tokyo on Thursday (26 September) to publicise their plight and to demand equality in jobs and living conditions.
SV Demonstrators holding banners
SV Armed guards
SCU Demonstrators being pushed around by guards (2 shots)
SV Demonstrators (2 shots)
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SV Leaders of the march
SV Demonstrators being cordoned off by police
GV people watching
SV People crossing road in front of demonstration
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Background: About 30,000 of Japan's "social outcasts" marched through the streets of Tokyo on Thursday (26 September) to publicise their plight and to demand equality in jobs and living conditions.
They're variously known as "Eta" (outcasts), "Burakumin" (village or ghetto-dwellers), and "Hinin" (non-human).
Their existence is usually depressing - often they live in crowded poorly-equipped slums, and engage in lowly-paid and socially unacceptable jobs, such as sewage collection, butchering and tannery work.
Little is known of their origin but it's believed to have co-incided with the introduction of Buddhism into Japan in the seventh century. Buddhists hold all animal life sacred and consequently, all killers and butchers of animals are considered less than human.
There are no racial or physical differences between the Burakumin and other Japanese people and no official figure is kept on their numbers.
Observers said Thursday's demonstration in Tokyo signified a new social awareness among the Burakumin who, after nearly 13 centuries of unobstrusive existence, were starting to air their grievances publicly.
The demonstration was held generally to protest against the social injustice they've faced. But the immediate cause was the indictment of a Mr. Ishikawa -- a Burakumin charged with murder 11 years ago and still on trial, amid rising controversy and charges of discrimination.