What is "Social Justice"?

written on 19th February 2017 

Posted by Yochi SUZUKI

I went to United States 2011. It was my first time to visit.

It was to observe the one week intensive training for students organized by Oxfam America.

When I was in the training, I had several opportunities to interview the students.


"Why are you here?"

"Social Justice!"


I'm still remembering that I was really surprised because I did not know what is social justice.


In Japan, we usually did not use the term of social justice without law.

And I think the incentive to join volunteer or international development were not social justice.

(Some, not all, Japanese students who are interested in international development said that the poverty in inside Japan was not severe, compared with Africa... I knew that they did not have the opportunity to know the real lives under domestic poverty and they could not imagine.)


However, I've realized what is social justice through the week with students in America.

I heard about the defining moments of several students and they shared their experiences to feel social injustice.


Yes, I've realized that social justice comes to social injustice.

And it is not easy to talk about social and political issues in public space in Japan. I think I did not have the opportunity to share the feelings regarding with social injustice and I tend to think it must be self responsibility when I had discriminated or was not be respected.



[Reference: The surveys of the 7 countries' young people(13-29)]

This is a question about you. Do you feel proud of yourself when you know what is just/right? 

Here is the answer to be proud of it.

France               91.9%

Germany            91.7%

Japan                 57.5%

Rep.of Korea      68.0%

Sweden              93.4%

United Kingdom  89.9%

United states       91.8%

the survey "平成25年度 我が国と諸外国の若者の意識に関する調査" by Cabinet Office of Japanese Government [2013]



And there is one more thing we need to think when we talk about "social justice".


"Socil Justice" is a justice in a society.

It might depend on the individuals' recognition ofg society.

If you belong to the society that respects the diversity, your "social justice" should be based on such "society".

So how about the society that does not have the opportunity to talk others? 




We recommend you to read other column or English page of Wake Up Japan.

About Yoichi SUZUKI


Yoichi SUZUKI, Co-president of Wake Up Japan.

He tried to commit suicide at his teenage. Then, he started to think why we live.

During university life, he is really energetic on Model United Nations. He was president of Japan Model United Nations Society. in 2008, he committed to political engagement that promotes young people to show the vision towards G8 Summit.

After the graduation of his University, he went to Malaysia and helped to educate high school and undergraduate students on sustainability for 2 months.

Then, he came back to Japan and started to work as Campaigns Officer in Oxfam Japan. His job is to import/integrate Western Social Change model to Japanese context through community and youth engagement program.

He had the opportunities to visit and organize workshop in Australia, Germany, South Korea and United States to see the society and its social activism.

He also joined Powershift Japan as co-founder, the platform of young people to demand climate justice and sustainable future in 2014 and started Wake Up Japan, the platform to promote active citizenship and social justice through dialogue in 2016, along with his Oxfam working.