How to Destroy People: Japan’s Untouchables


I want to talk about a minority group. And I know what you’re already thinking, thank God finally an upper middle class white guy who’s going to talk about minorities on the internet. But I hope you’ll find this video interesting, or perhaps even useful. Because the group that we’re talking about have suffered the same as virtually any oppressed people around the world, and yet, they’re genetically identical the majority. Burakumin directly translates to village people. But, no, not those village people. No. It’s actually a euphemism to describe two groups. There’s these historically oppressed groups known as the eta or impure people and the hinin also known as nobody or non-human. And those two words eta and hinin are hugely offensive here. So I’m only going to use them sparingly and in their historical context. And to understand why those terms are offensive or even why they exist at all we need to look at the state of Japanese society in two periods. The Medieval Period and the Tokugawa Period. And I know that sounds like a lot to take in, but we’re going to keep it really simple. So 500 years before Christ, this guy named Confucius is born into a crumbling Chinese kingdom. He looks around and says, this sucks. I should fix it. And so he decides that the state should be run like a family with really strict rules on who fits into what category. Specifically four categories that he invents: scholars, farmers, artisans and merchants, in that order. Not everybody actually fits into these categories, but that doesn’t really bother Confucius. He’s a bit of an idealist and after all, the Chinese are willing to give it a go. So a few hundred years later and China’s breaking down again. Only now this Confucius guy’s pretty dead and he’s not really able to help decide what comes next. The people really loved Confucius’ ideas, but he didn’t talk about God enough. It was always man this and woman that. It was never God. And so they started looking around and this thing called Buddhism had been coming over from India and they thought, you know what, we can make this into a religion. And it seemed like it could be fun so the Chinese decided to give that a go too. Japan was sort of unifying into a proto-nation and they’ve been looking to the west, to China for a bit of help. After all China had been a nation for around a thousand years at this point. So they had a lot of good ideas to steal. Confucianism was one of the best but it had split society into four distinct categories that you couldn’t change from after birth, and therefore if you weren’t part of those four categories, you almost weren’t part of society. It’s as if you didn’t exist. And what’s more they went a little overboard and ended up taking a new religion along with it. Buddhism. But the common people weren’t really that into Buddhism. They already had their own religion, Shintoism, and it was pretty cool. You could pray to trees and rocks and stuff, and everybody agreed that that was kind of awesome. But the elites of China and Korea, they really like this Buddhism thing, so the elites of Japan, they wanted in too. So Buddhism changed a lot of things that I’m not really going to get into right now, but the one thing that it didn’t change was who was on the bottom. In fact it actually helped codify it into law. Shintoism already had this idea of Kegare, which you can almost consider sin, except it’s not just things that you do that cause it. It’s also things that happen to you. For example your friend died, that’s kegare, and you need to go purify yourself. You change the barriers in a rice field, so it looks like you now have more than your neighbor, that’s also Kegare. You got to purify. You touched placenta during childbirth. Oh, you know. That’s Kegare. The eta and the hinin were now socially, religiously, and perhaps most importantly, legally on the bottom. So far on the bottom in fact, that they were below the system. The eta had done jobs that were historically necessary, but religiously unacceptable. For example tanning the hides, cutting the meat, dealing with the dead. Pretty much non-stop kegare. No way to get clean. The hinin on the other hand did jobs that society just wish didn’t happen. Prostitution, begging, criminals, ugh, and actors. Actors. The hinin weren’t really committing kegare, but it kind of felt like they were. Between Buddhism and Shintoism, they were definitely doing something wrong. And so soon, they were lumped together as Japan’s untouchables, or as they would later be known as, the Burakumin. They were so far down the social ladder that they weren’t even counted on the census. One official referred to them as 1/7 of a human. Barely even people. To distinguish them from the rest of the population, the government made them wear their own clothes, moved them into their own neighborhoods and even sometimes tattooed them to show their criminal or anti-social behavior. Ostracized, their language even began to change. Not allowed to own farms, change their status or marry outside their social caste, the Burakumin become a people within a people. Despite being genetically identical to the Japanese around them. They’re actually referred to as racially inferior. The average person is no longer willing to see themselves in the reflection. With limited prospects for the future, the Burakumin began to criminalize. As gambling entered society, they were predominantly the ones who ran the parlors. And now with this limited amount of wealth and power to protect, They formed gangs. Because the government, it wasn’t going to protect them. In fact it was openly hostile to them. So now, almost three out of every four yakuza members come from the Burakumin class. They even started to tattoo themselves. What society had viewed as a form of shame, they took as a form of honor. When the Burakumin were given equal rights in the 1860’s, that was supposed to be the end of it. But of course discrimination didn’t stop just because the government said it did. It was ingrained as a part of society. So despite the fact that they were completely the same, society had to find a way to continue to oppress them. So these neighborhoods became the last to modernize. Marriage books were invented so that families would avoid marrying into this caste. And on top of that, books were handed around between companies that listed where people were from and last names. So that even though it was completely illegal, these companies would save themselves the shame of hiring an untouchable. In the Modern Era, these neighborhoods have simply become places of poverty. Mixed in with the historically oppressed class are now mentally and physically unwell, elderly without family and immigrants from what are considered undesirable nations. They’ve created almost a new social class. A nebulous class. No longer able to exactly pinpoint who fits into it in a time when we’re supposedly above that sort of thing. It’s an evolving idea. But there’s no question when you walk these streets that it’s happening. Obviously this isn’t a problem unique to Japan. I’m sure in your mind you’ve already started making connections to your own society. All it really takes to destroy a people is to take away their future. To take away the potential of their children. It’s so easy to pinpoint problems on the characteristics of the subgroup to say that it’s race, religion, country of origin. But the Burakumin are less likely to get a good education, more likely to be unemployed and in turn, more likely to become criminals. But they’re the same as everybody else. This is Rare Earth. of every four…

100 thoughts on “How to Destroy People: Japan’s Untouchables

  1. Thanks to everyone who asked about our Patreon. I'll put out a full video when I get the time, but for those who want to jump the gun and get on board from the start, here's the link: https://www.patreon.com/rareearth

    It means a huge deal that so many have asked us to start an account. I never thought anyone would watch these videos, let alone support them.

  2. Budisim felt like fun. Probably not. Relfion has been exploited by rulers from the beginning. Budism would not have been immune from the usefulness after the emporers consdierations. Or maybe they just got lucky?

  3. So, you trying to say, that the castes dont exist in USA and everyone have the same chance, payment, education, can take high position, even can become a president?!?
    Please, dont make us laught!!!

  4. In the southern United States, there is a shunned minority class of people who won't vote for candidates who are openly antagonistic to the rights of women and immigrants or the preservation of the planet's resources, called the Burakumin Obamurin.

  5. 6:09. That reminds me off African Americans calling each other the “n” word. Something white people saw as a form of shame but the blacks now use to empower. And now white people want to say the word again😒😒😒😒

  6. You can always count on the Japanese to take away a person's humanity and commit heinous acts on people they consider sub-human.

  7. they saw it as a necessicity, they need low class citizens to do the dirty work, its always that way everywhere, in US we have migrants
    this shows how buddhism and hindus are changed to benefit the elite of the ruling class
    caste system are worst than slavery, at least in slavery u can get out of it by buying urself out

  8. Thanks. Four categories, you say? Scholars, farmers, artisans and merchants, eh? I wonder what the Japanese word is for Divergent. Funny how whenever people try to force some unnatural system onto other people, they always find a way out of it… eventually. Unfortunately, the damage is often permanent. tavi.

  9. I wish the video had explained the setting of the video, as well as the dates the politicians had said the awful things about those people.

  10. I don’t understand…why all societies need one lower class…isn’t that shortsighted? If you have an enemy wanting to invade your country, the only thing they have to do is convince the lower class they will “liberate” them and war is won.

  11. While I'm glad to see something about the Burakumin, this video is chock full of oversimplification and mis-characterization to the point of falsehood on a host of topics.

  12. Still they live in much better conditions than homeless people in the US. Do Rare Earth has any videos on that? How mentally ill, poor and veterans are living in tents and, like street dogs, scavege bins for food? Go for a walk on the Skid Row and bring the camera man too…

  13. Same thing is happening all over the western world. Young, white men are are offered no help from their own government and inevitably fall into a subculture and homelessness…all while immigrants are given homes, jobs and money. How much did the immigrants family and ancestors pay into our system: how many died, fighting for our government/country?

  14. This is a good example of why white nationalists are wrong to prevent immigration and fear other 'races'. The hatred and fear they feel comes from within, not from without. If they were to achieve their goals to rid their country of all undesirables, another group of their own countrymen would become undesirable, and the cycle would repeat.

  15. Just goes to show that even when people are racially identical they will still find ways to marginalize each other. If we created a race of identical clones and put them on an island one group will be ostracized because they part their hair wrong. People are assholes.

  16. I appreciate your video! Its interesting to see the idiosyncratic shapes economic injustice takes in different societies.

  17. Your opening statement was enough to convince to dislike your video bro, just make your observations, and leave your personal opinions and status hierarchy out of the picture .

    I still like your video though, very informative.

  18. damn i thought this was gonna be the untouchables like the fuckin mafia and shit who "destroy" peoples lives not this kinda sad stuff D:

  19. In America, choices lie before all who live here. In some cases it's the appeal and cultural pressure that draws some to criminality. It's glorified. It's purely about reputation and face rather than the harder road that which is virtue and sovereignty. There in Japan the are left with hardly an option because its "law", here in America it's a combination of reputational appeal, overbearing exploitation and illegal substances that lead people in poverty into the criminal life, but its definitely a choice. Eliminating the "career" from "career politican" would be an paramount step in ending the exploitation of poor communities.

  20. even in America you get out of high school you have some problems, thinking about how jealous you are about the peers of yours that go party at 4 year secondary schools you then go to apply for shithole jobs and live paycheck to paycheck or become a slave to student loan debt and be in debt for the rest of your life, nothing is easy, you try to apply for a decent job you have competition from illegal immigrants and citizens!!!!! you get shamed by your own parents for not having a car or drivers license in the suburbs, another competition to have things like cars and your own residence this world is truly ruled by hatred and the only thing we truly pass down from each generation is our hatred

  21. Brilliant video! Explains so much about the Yakuza that I always wondered and opens my eyes to a problem I never knew existed, as you yourself said.

  22. I wonder how many people in this situation end up immigrating to countries like the US or UK where people don’t know about/don’t give a shit about their supposed “status” and they can get ahead just like anybody else?

  23. Anybody still reading these comments and interested in the topic, you should also investigate into how the Japanese treated the children orphaned by Allied bombings. Forsaken and forgotten; unkempt, severely undernourished and turning feral; living and hustling, begging and stealing inside Tokyo's train stations. Some of them jumped in front of approaching trains. I'm talking 8-year olds committing suicide. After 3 or 4 years of this miserable hell in plain view of all, volunteer-funded boarding schools opened up to take these orphaned kids in. Some found their way into "regular" schools, where they were mercilessly taunted by both class and teachers for… for… for having their parents killed during a bombing raid, then having to fend for themselves in hostile streets at age 5 and 6?

  24. Most Societies in this world have this in common. People in power, will always find a way to classify those with less so that they can remain in power. An oppressor, cannot be an oppressor without someone to oppress. Powerful people will always take for those with less, then blame them for having less.
    In my humble opinion, the only way to prevent this is to create a society based on cooperation. A society where wealth is shared equally amongst all and the greedy are severely punished, ostracized or both. Unfortunately it doesn't seem that we will ever learn this lesson. Or if we do learn it that we will be able to make it work. That's why we are all doomed.

  25. Dividing human being in four groups based on birth and the upper most group, will tell who will do what, Same in India. So the question is, Origin of Caste system is India or Japan. Who invented Caste Brahman Guru , Manu or Japanese's Guru Confucius? Dr. Ambedkar wrote Brahmin's invested and injected this poison to other Societies. –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annihilation_of_Caste
    Thanks for this video.

  26. Reminds of the colonial era in my country. The dutch and Japan colonials treated the locals as lowest class and sometimes at the same level as animal. That was before they were slapped by the germans and the US respectively in WW2.

  27. every society has good and bad..
    its just some are better at hiding the "bad" than others..
    the people who look to Japan as the answer to societies problems REALLY need to go there and see for themselves the down sides..
    no place is perfect. if we could cherry pick the best of the bunch and none of the bad that would be great. but reality dictates good and evil in equal measure.
    The USA has MANY societal problems, but keeping books of who's family you were born into so you can be oppressed later isnt one of them..
    i LOVE my butcher, the man is a genius at leaving just the right amount of fat on so you get the flavor you want.

    on the other hand i think every country can agree actors are scum..
    they seem to always forget no matter the culture WE LOVE THEM FOR THE ROLES THEY PLAY. but we dont GAF about their opinions as people, or using their status as celebrities to preach to us..
    nothing more disgusting then a person who makes action films full of violence preaching gun control. or an actress seen in skin tight revealing clothing at EVERY CHANCE preaching "me too" bullshit..

  28. 7:39 Although your statement is true. In modern Japan it does not apply to the so called Buraku. They are given the same rights, education and opportunity as any other member of the Japanese society. It is a question of whether they take it or blame every problem they have on the fact that they come from that lineage.
    I would agree that it is harder for them, but eventually it is their choice to grasp their personal success story.

  29. We also have a castsystem i Scandinavia, they are called hipsters, come from jylland and buy our apartments to overprices

  30. 1:07 '…and, i know that sounds like a lot to take in? but, we're gonne keep it real simple"
    because, we believe you're probably really stupid, so we'll say things slowly, without saying them too abstract that the main concept is simply lost upon your tiny little minds.

    That's what i hear when folks speak this way.

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