Burakumin and Koreans in Japan

Often cited in the IQ debates are the Burakumin (and sometimes Koreans as well) of Japan. For example, in Race and intelligence: separating science from myth (2001), Ogbu says

Time magazine had the following to say about the Buraku-Ippan gap in IQ test scores in 1973:

“…their children test 16 IQ points lower than other Japanese. (Remarkably similar to the average 15-point difference between U.S. Blacks and Whites…”

As voluntary minorities, the Burakumin in the United States perform well. Or, to put it differently, there is no evidence that they do less well on IQ tests and in school than other Japanese immigrants. In fact, the only study of Japanese immigrant performance in the United States that identified them indicates that they do slightly better in school than other Japanese immigrants (Ito, 1967).

One issue we should dispose of immediately is that there is not actually any evidence Burakumin do any better in the U.S. As Jason Malloy points out:

There is no data for Burakumin in the US. False claims about US IQ data have mutated second-hand from John Ogbu who claimed a study showed that the Baraku immigrants here “do slightly better in school than the other Japanese immigrants”. The book chapter Ogbu references for this claim (Ito 1966) however, is by a pseudonymous author who relied strictly on gossip from non-outcast Japanese communities in California to surmise how the outcasts here might be performing. The author’s informants believed the US outcasts were more attractive, more fair-skinned, and made more money. Though– as a testament to Ogbu’s immaculate scholarship– the author reported no gossip about how these Burakumin performed in school.
* Ito, H. (1966) Japan’s outcastes in the United States. In G.A. deVos and H. Wagatsuma (eds.), Japan’s Invisible Race. Berkeley: University of California Press.”

The only IQ tests done on Burakumin were decades ago, but they do show, as noted above, a gap similar to that between blacks and whites in the U.S (DeVos 1973; Ddevos & Wagatsuma, 1967). The academic achievement gap has persisted. Burakumin do worse academically, and enter college and high school at lower rates:

Burakumin IQ scores. From Ogbu (2001), in "Race and intelligence: separating science from myth"

Ikeda (2005) "Ethnicity, race, and nationality in education: a global pespective"

High School entrance rates - Burakumin: blue diamonds, Japanese majority: pink squares. (source: http://goo.gl/9AaxO)

College entrance rates - Burakumin: blue diamonds, Japanese majority: pink squares (source: http://goo.gl/9AaxO)

There have not been any IQ tests on Koreans in Japan, but they show a similarly low achievement academically, despite Koreans in Korea and the Western world doing very well. Koreans living in Japan originates with Japan’s colonization of Korea and the sometimes forced, sometimes voluntary movement of people to fill labour shortages. Like Burakumin, Koreans have faced general discrimination. As we can see below, Koreans do even worse than Burakumin in qualifying for higher education:

Percent of each group that are qualified by grades for higher institutions. From Ogbu (2001), in "Race and intelligence: separating science from myth"

Koreans and Burakumin also show other persistent social pathologies that make them reminiscent of blacks, or other unsuccessful minorities. As of 1995, Burakumin earn 60% of the national average, single parents are twice as common, welfare dependency is 7x the national average, one study (in the 60s – the issue is very sensitive) found Burakumin youth 3x more likely to be arrested. Burakumin and Koreans are known to dominate the organized crime business as well – the Yamaguchi Gumi, the biggest gang (at least in 1995), was 75% Burakumin and Korean.

These problems persist despite the govenment spending substantial amounts of money trying to improve Burakumin social and educational conditions (Shimahara, 1991).

Given that Burakumin are ethnically Japanese and suffered discrimination on the order of centuries, and Koreans only arrived in Japan in the last century and have been successful in all other parts of the world, these are unlikely to be genetically caused differences, and yet they show very similar features to the putative genetic differences between blacks and whites.

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