Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Emancipation Decree of 1871

In 1871, the Meiji government issued an edict legally abolishing the derogatory names of eta (polluted ones) and hinin (nonhumans)—two common names for the burakumin—and stipulating that they be treated as "new common people." No follow-through measures were provided to implement their emancipation, however, and they continued to be relegated to "unclean" work while at the same time losing their monopoly on the more lucrative leather-crafts industry. The emancipation edict had little effect on the Japanese people in general and only worsened economic conditions for the burakumin. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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