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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 6 - 12  > JCP discusses government-proposed legislation with Ainu
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2019 March 6 - 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP discusses government-proposed legislation with Ainu

March 6, 2019

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Miyamoto Takeshi on March 4 and 5 visited Hokkaido and held meetings with representatives of Ainu organizations to exchange views on the Abe government-proposed bill to establish an Ainu law which is expected to be submitted to the current Diet session.

The exchange meetings took place in Chitose and Tomakomai cities as well as in Shiraoi Town in Hokkaido; Ainu are taking a watchful stance toward the government bill.

In the meeting held in Tomakomai City, the head of the Ainu Association in Tomakomai’s neighboring town of Mukawa cast a doubtful eye on the government-drafted bill.

Sawada Kazunori, the chair of the Tomakomai Ainu Association, made a request for government measures to break the chain of poverty by including financial support for preschool and school-aged children. Furthermore, noting that many elderly Ainu receive insufficient pension benefits if at all, Sawada demanded that the government take measures to deal with this issue.

Kimura Fumio, who heads a local Ainu group working on the issue of Ainu remains stolen from burial sites in Hokkaido, referred to nearly a century of government policies forcing the Ainu to assimilate into Japanese society and relocate from their original settlements. Kimura criticized the government for failing to make efforts to increase public understanding of the history of discrimination toward Ainu.

Miyamoto said, “The meeting gave me a deep understanding of the poverty and discrimination that Ainu experience. I’ll work hard to have the Diet hold hearing sessions and summon material witnesses so that Ainu demands will be reflected in the government-introduced bill.

The Abe government-proposed legislation which for the first time recognizes the Ainu people as an “indigenous” people, if enacted, will serve as a basis of the government policy on Ainu by replacing the 1997 Ainu Culture Promotion Law.

Ainu are an indigenous people who primarily inhabit Hokkaido. Between the 17th and the 19th centuries, their settlement areas spread from the northern regions of Japan, including Hokkaido, to Sakhalin and the Chishima Islands. The Hokkaido government survey data shows that in 2013, 16,786 Ainu people live in the prefecture.

Past related articles:
> Abe gov’t pressures textbook publisher to delete description of Ainu land seizure [April 17, 2015]
> Ainu policy must be drastically reviewed to meet new Diet resolution [June 16, 2008]
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