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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 September 2 - 8  > Government report recognizes Ainu as an indigenous people
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2009 September 2 - 8 [POLITICS]

Government report recognizes Ainu as an indigenous people

September 7, 2009
A government panel of experts on Ainu policy published a report in July calling for a comprehensive policy to be implemented on the basis of the recognition that Ainu people are an indigenous people. The government then established in the Cabinet Office an office devoted to making comprehensive policies on the Ainu.

Acknowledging as a historical fact that the Japanese government in modern history expropriated Ainu people’s land and imposed a culturally destructive assimilation policy on them, the report states that the “government should develop measures based on the recognition that Ainu people are an indigenous people”. This is a very important proposal for the redress of Ainu wrongs.

Historically, the government has developed policies within the framework of the law to promote Ainu people’s cultural development. However, as the report points out, these measures were not based on the recognition that Ainu people are an indigenous people, and Ainu people have been socially discriminated against and forced to endure social and economic inequalities.

A Hokkaido University survey in 2008 of 3,438 members of the Hokkaido Ainu Society shows that Ainu people are forced to endure serious hardships. For example, 44.3 percent of Ainu households live on an annual gross income below three million yen. The average income of Ainu households is 3.7 million yen, far below the national average of 6.4 million yen or even the Hokkaido average at 5.7 million yen. The educational gap is also serious, with only 4.4 percent of Ainu people receiving higher education.

The government should strengthen its support of Ainu people in finding jobs and receiving education, and secure decent livelihoods for Ainu elders. It must pay due compensation for utilizing land and resources in the Ainu districts.
- Akahata, September 7, 2009
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