Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


This paper investigates the relationship of Dowa education (integration education for Burakumin minority group in Japan) to the identity and social integration of Burakumin. Burakumin are identical to majority Japanese in terms of race, ethnicity, language and culture. The group is defined as descendants of those who belonged to "Eta," the lowest class of the feudal society created in the 17th century, and those who resided for a certain period in "Buraku" areas. Their negative identity resulted from discrimination for centuries, thus, most Burakumin choose assimilation into the mainstream society. However, recently some in the Burakumin community have questioned whether "assimilation" is an appropriate goal. Dowa education, strongly linked to the liberation movement, is also influenced from the debate over in which direction Burakumin should go; as an assimilated member of the majority or as a distinct Burakumin. The research methods employed were literature review and interviews with practitioners and researchers in Dowa education in oral and written forms.

In conclusion, there is no clear evidence that Dowa education promotes Burakumin's establishment of identity nor their distinct contribution to the overall society. At least it is clear that Dowa education has shifted its focus from the negative aspects to the positive ones of being a Burakumin in accordance with the overall liberation movement's going towards the establishment of a positive Burakumin identity and the participation in the society as a special entity. Thus, the movement is a more determinant factor for identity and integration issues than Dowa education itself.

The practical relevance of the paper is threefold: the Burakumin community, the Japanese education community and the Japanese aid community. Since this kind of research was not done much in the past, the conclusions provide baseline data for the people concerned in and out of the Burakumin community in policy-making. The conclusions contribute to the internationalization of Japanese education and the sensitization of Japanese people as well, and could help widen Japan's choices of education aid to developing countries.


Sociology of Culture