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Ainu rise up from the margins of Japanese society

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It's great to read a good news story. Be proud of your Ainu heritage.

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You can have an identity as Ainu, but we Japanese don’t know what we can be proud of

Yikes. Are they serious?

I guess this is an unexpected consequence of pushing conformity. When people who grew up in a conformist society see someone with an individual identity, they assume that they don't have one themselves.

These people need to get out of Japan and see other cultures for contrast. Yes, Japan has a lot of nastiness in its past, but that's hardly specific to Japan. Do these people really think they don't have anything in their culture that would be a counterpart to whatever they see in Ainu culture?

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This article really changed my view of what makes someone Japanese. The only problem I have with it is that instead of highlighting differences maybe they should focus on what makes them all Japanese, whether they are of Brazilian-Japanese, Korean, or Ainu they should focus on what makes them similar. A little unity and conformity is not all bad. In this day and age we get so wrapped up in individuality and multiculturalism we forget that unity and homogeneity also has its strengths because humans are social creatures and we all need to benefit the whole.

In June, Japan’s parliament recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people with a distinct religion, language and culture, a major shift from the mid-1980s when Yasuhiro Nakasone, the then prime minister, declared that Japan was a homogenous nation with no minorities.

Now that depends on what your definition of homogeneous is. If you want to get all scientific and nitpick the genetic makeup of a population of coarse your gonna find it isn't that homogeneous, but if you look at the similarities such as culture and language and history and appearance even maybe you'll find that Japan is very homogeneous and unified as compared to other nations. I dont see the appeal of this rampant individuality "all about me" idea that has swept the planet these past decades but were going to see the consequences when we realize we have nothing to agree on and our cultures have been diluted and fragmented.

“Some people say, ‘You can have an identity as Ainu, but we Japanese don’t know what we can be proud of,’” Sakai said.

Exactly, its okay for a minority to be proud of who they are and to wish to remain united and to live amongst their own kind, but Japanese or whites are racist or ignorant if we want to defend our culture and solidarity.

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Exactly, its okay for a minority to be proud of who they are and to wish to remain united and to live amongst their own kind, but Japanese or whites are racist or ignorant if we want to defend our culture and solidarity.

No, we're not. The difference being that there's no need to "defend" our culture. Our culture is the dominant one. When you "defend" something that doesn't need defending, it reads as a superiority trip. Sorry, that's the price of being the majority. Fair? Maybe not. Too bad.

Nobody calls anyone racist or ignorant if Germans celebrate German culture in America, or if Irish celebrate their culture in Australia. That's pride. "White" culture is a hodge podge of vastly different European cultures, and is far too generic a term to take seriously. It also has a long, unambiguous history of being used as little more than a superiority trip and a power grab, usually with profoundly racist overtones and actions.

Solidarity is something totally different. Solidarity is something that is necessary under duress, but if you're in charge and start talking about "solidarity" and "defending" a culture that's on top, people get (quite rightly) nervous. The dictionary definition of solidarity does not have superior overtones, but if you think the common usage doesn't you're delusional. 99% of people will read racism into the phrase "white solidarity," and they have extremely good reasons for doing so. You really should know this already.

When people in charge start complaining that they don't get enough respect, history has shown that bad, bad, BAD things happen. CELEBRATING a dominant way of life is, and always has been, just fine. Do people get cranky over celebrating the 4th of July, Easter, The Super Bowl? No. You do get a few people who are upset about Christmas, but they're very few and far between, and the criticism tends to be focused on Christian demands to control the situation beyond what they're entitled to expect.

Let's say you have 10 people. If 2 of them decide to see a movie and don't invite the other 8 along, who cares? But if 9 of them decide to exclude one for whatever reason, that's discrimination. Sorry, but that's what the word means. Now, that discrimination may have a good basis (i.e. the one guy doesn't behave himself, etc.) Not all discrimination is bad. But saying "we're going because it's a white guy thing," well...what's left for the one? Sorry guys, if you're in charge, you do have an ethical responsibility to make sure people different than you aren't bounced out of life due to things beyond their control. It's called "society," and what's right is not always fair to the most technical degree.

"Defending" a way of life that is not under credible threat is NOT about pride, it's about control. Nobody's calling the Japanese racist just because they celebrate Obon, and nobody calls the Irish racist because they celebrate St. Patrick's.

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TPOJ,

Very insightful!!

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Very thoughtful

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Would be cool if Ainu decide to claim independence from Japan and start killing ethnic Japanese in their regions.

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TPOJ, excellent post.

When individuals of a group have been used to their predominance over others due to suppression, I think many people in the majority get nervous when they see that idea of control over another start to fade. Creating a more level playing field between communities is what civilized countries are supposed to do, so others around the world can follow by example and understand the great advantages of diversity in a culture.

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Monoethnic and monocultural countries, like Japan or Korea, cannot be held accountable to the same standard as USA or any country that claimed itself to be a nondicriminating, multiehtnic/multicultural country yet failed to live up to that standard. On the other hand, the progresses made in either Japan or Korea are no less notable, considering that neither set itself up to the same lofty and idealistic yet unmet standard as USA has done.

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TPOJ, just like everybody above me, great post.

Badtz Proper, you need to stop smoking that bud...your ideals are lacking.

Article is fine...doesn't say if Sakai is mixed or not. So does she feel shame for being part Japanese if she is? It is fine to be mixed and proud that you are mixed that you are part minority, but do not forget what society you are growing up in and not all whites and japanese are racist. All races have groups among them that wish to remain "pure".

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Maybe if there is a famous idol ainu group then ainu will be trendy

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Japanese people, usually men, tend to be very xenophobic and think they are the only people on the planet! It's great to see this girl enjoying her heritage! BTW, not ALL Japanese people are xenophobic.

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I just want to know when the casino's going to open.

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The Ainu lived for centuries in Hokkaido...

Which authoritative voice is going to comment that for us ? Are we sure they always staid gently in this God forlorn island, so as not to aggravate the other ethnic group (or groups), or have they been indigenous to a large part of Honshu and later on pushed back to the North and finally corralled in Hokkaido ?

Why does Ms Sakai not adopt as artist's name a truly Ainu name ?

And finally, I notice that there is a post from a person so ignorant or biased as to think that Koreans and Japanese are "monoethnic". Does not he know that both Korean and Japanese "kun" languages have connections with the family of the altaic languages ? So, let him consider this : language from the Altair area would have come to Korea and Japan without any human migration as a vector ? Maybe these prehistoric altaic guys were sending tapes to the monoethnic Koreans...

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Why does Ms Sakai not adopt as artist's name a truly Ainu name ?

Freespeech, she already has a perfectly-good real Ainu name -- "Mina" means "laugh" or "smile" in Ainu.

She herself may have waited until age 16 to discover her bicultural-ness, but her parents certainly wanted to make her aware of it when they named her.

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TPOJ,

One of the better posts I've seen on JT in quite some time. Well done.

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My nephew, Shogo, is a Ryukyuan who seems to have found sonething very interesting in Hokkiado and he is always going back and forth from Okinawa to visit someone. (??) I hope it is what I feel it is. I will be so proud.

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And finally, I notice that there is a post from a person so ignorant or biased as to think that Koreans and Japanese are "monoethnic". Does not he know that both Korean and Japanese "kun" languages have connections with the family of the altaic languages ? So, let him consider this : language from the Altair area would have come to Korea and Japan without any human migration as a vector ? Maybe these prehistoric altaic guys were sending tapes to the monoethnic Koreans...

I use "ethnicity", as it is used technically by anthropologists or sociologists, to denote a subclass within a race. In that regard, Koreans and Japanese are two different ethnicities within the Mongoloid race. I guess we can argue on the fine details and semantics, but I'm simply going by what the supposedly scientifically and logically superior whites/Europeans/Westerners have come up and used as classifying people of the world ethnically and culturally, for years. For the sake of world unity and harmony, we can simply acknowledge that all humanity originated from Africa and so we are all just one big family. But, guess what? Human history would indicate otherwise and we tended to stress our differences more than similarities, in order to gain advantages or feel superior from each other. And that became our habit for millennia, I believe.

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Proud Korean Guy

I am unfamiliar any current or recent scholars or academics in either anthropology or sociology that use the terms ethnicity and race in the manner you have. In Western research, the 19th century concept of Race has over the past half century been jetisoned. Simply put, it is no longer the lingo. It is no longer the lingo because its flawed.

The flaws in your categorization, unfortunately, is not mere semantics. Insofar as semantics means the use and meaning of words, the way in which we discuss this issue is not tangential to the issue of whether Japan and Korea are multi-ethnic. To wit: the dominant people from those nations erroneously view ethnicity primarily as a pure blood-line, and link that assumed blood line to their national identity.

In short, in Japan and Korea, nationalism defines ethnicity.

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woops

And that nationalism incorrectly states that Koreans and Japanese are mono-ethnic cultures.

Which they demonstratebly are not.

So, if any group is to be accused of misusing the concepts of race and ethnicity in order to promote a nationalist or cultural bias, look no further than Japan and Korea.

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Would be cool if Ainu decide to claim independence from Japan and start killing ethnic Japanese in their regions.

Why would you want to see innocent civilians being killed?

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Most of the Ainu have integrated into Japanese Society over the last thousand years, many families do not realize they have Ainu ancestry. They were recruited as sword smiths and warriors in many of the internecine wars in ancient times. The Ainu and related groups occupied all of Honshu before the Yamato people moved North out of Kyushu, especially along the coasts. Many were still in Northern Honshu 500 years ago. They deserve to be recognized, just as Japan recognized the original Taiwanese people. The Ainu will not go to war with a society they tried to integrate into for thousands of years.

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So, if any group is to be accused of misusing the concepts of race and ethnicity in order to promote a nationalist or cultural bias, look no further than Japan and Korea.

Please do explain, then, how the terms race and ethnicity are used in a multicultural society, such as the U.S., distinguished from the contexts which I used.

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No, we're not. The difference being that there's no need to "defend" our culture. Our culture is the dominant one. When you "defend" something that doesn't need defending, it reads as a superiority trip. Sorry, that's the price of being the majority. Fair? Maybe not. Too bad.

Actually in some countries where immigration is so out of control that the once native population that made that country what it is will soon be pushed to 50% of the population and eventually minority status will we be free to celebrate our heritage then? Maybe by the time the English are a minority in Britain it will be okay to celebrate our culture at that point according to your logic instead of remaining the dominant ethnic group in the nation in which that people originated and built. The Ainu are just as Japanese as the rest and their culture should be promoted but they should also focus on unifying themselves with the rest of the population.

Nobody calls anyone racist or ignorant if Germans celebrate German culture in America, or if Irish celebrate their culture in Australia. That's pride. "White" culture is a hodge podge of vastly different European cultures, and is far too generic a term to take seriously. It also has a long, unambiguous history of being used as little more than a superiority trip and a power grab, usually with profoundly racist overtones and actions.

As soon as I mention white I get attacked, imagine that. You sure are the hero of this thread aren't you? I agree with you on that, but white is a term I used to describe Europeans, if I were to say French or British would that have been better?

Solidarity is something totally different. Solidarity is something that is necessary under duress, but if you're in charge and start talking about "solidarity" and "defending" a culture that's on top, people get (quite rightly) nervous. The dictionary definition of solidarity does not have superior overtones, but if you think the common usage doesn't you're delusional. 99% of people will read racism into the phrase "white solidarity," and they have extremely good reasons for doing so. You really should know this already.

When the majority native population sees its culture being undermined by a quickly growing minority and sees minority status in its future isn't it understandable that they would feel increasingly nervous too? Thats the consequence of mass immigration. Fair? Maybe not. Too bad. Once again excuse me for using the words "white" and "solidarity" in the same sentence. I was being a bit insensitive.

When people in charge start complaining that they don't get enough respect, history has shown that bad, bad, BAD things happen. CELEBRATING a dominant way of life is, and always has been, just fine. Do people get cranky over celebrating the 4th of July, Easter, The Super Bowl? No. You do get a few people who are upset about Christmas, but they're very few and far between, and the criticism tends to be focused on Christian demands to control the situation beyond what they're entitled to expect.

completely agreed.

Let's say you have 10 people. If 2 of them decide to see a movie and don't invite the other 8 along, who cares? But if 9 of them decide to exclude one for whatever reason, that's discrimination. Sorry, but that's what the word means. Now, that discrimination may have a good basis (i.e. the one guy doesn't behave himself, etc.) Not all discrimination is bad.

Very true, well done

But saying "we're going because it's a white guy thing," well...what's left for the one? Sorry guys, if you're in charge, you do have an ethical responsibility to make sure people different than you aren't bounced out of life due to things beyond their control. It's called "society," and what's right is not always fair to the most technical degree.

Wow, I'm starting to agree more and more. My input here is that people can control such things as whether they should assimilate into the mainstream enough so they dont find themselves isolated and conflictive with others. A different racial group has the ability to assimilate into the mainstream but may choose not to because they do not want to abandon their culture, but cultures conflict as we have seen over the past few decades and its either assimilate or separate its hard to find a happy medium. The day we do will be the day multiculturalism functions without the side affects.

"Defending" a way of life that is not under credible threat is NOT about pride, it's about control. Nobody's calling the Japanese racist just because they celebrate Obon, and nobody calls the Irish racist because they celebrate St. Patrick's.

Agreed. But who decides when the threat is credible? I enjoyed responding to this you really changed my views a bit.

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Badtz Proper, you need to stop smoking that bud...your ideals are lacking.

Its not a bud its a cigar and see no lacking ideals my friend.

Creating a more level playing field between communities is what civilized countries are supposed to do, so others around the world can follow by example and understand the great advantages of diversity in a culture.

Advantages such as? Explain to me these advantages, please, and compare and contrast to a mostly homogeneous society? While your telling me this Japan is busy supplementing its declining birthrate with robots, selling top quality products, and entertaining the world with its animation industry. Brazil is extremely diverse..why isn't it dominating the world? I dont see any game consoles coming out of Colombia or Egypt. Level playing field? By undermining the native population and by giving hand outs to to a growing impoverished minority population who mostly has no desire to assimilate only dominate? Sounds like a fun game.

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In Ainu's eyes the Japanese are foreigners!

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Ainu or whatever --> they are all descendants of the Great MU.

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Are we sure they always staid gently in this God forlorn island, so as not to aggravate the other ethnic group (or groups), or have they been indigenous to a large part of Honshu and later on pushed back to the North and finally corralled in Hokkaido ?

As a resident of this "God forlorn island", I'll say it's a good point that Ainu used to live also in much of Honshu. But the idea of their being pushed back and coralled is baseless bluster.

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Agreed. But who decides when the threat is credible?

Well, it's really a case by case thing. There's no perfect system here, but basically, the best way to figure it out is...what we're doing here. Talking about it, making sure there's actually a problem, making sure it's not just the whining of people losing an advantage they were used to (but weren't really entitled to.)

And thank you for being less of a dick than I was ;)

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Forgoing the 'rat' there's only one race, the human one. Stop being so neo-Darwinist.

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Badtz Proper wrote: Advantages such as? Explain to me these advantages, please, and compare and contrast to a mostly homogeneous society? While your telling me this Japan is busy supplementing its declining birthrate with robots, selling top quality products, and entertaining the world with its animation industry. Brazil is extremely diverse..why isn't it dominating the world? I dont see any game consoles coming out of Colombia or Egypt. Level playing field? By undermining the native population and by giving hand outs to to a growing impoverished minority population who mostly has no desire to assimilate only dominate? Sounds like a fun game.

First of all most the modern Japan we see today is mainly do to the reset button which took place after WWII. After the Americans came in, they were leap frogged into the industrial age. A chain reaction that echoed to all the other countries they touched during their campaign. (Korea, China. Phillipines etc.)

The reason why they are leaders in technology is because their culture are so open to embracing such things. Countries where it is not as important focus on other priorities. It has nothing to do with a homogenous culture but economics. (Supply&Demand, allocation of resources)Maybe if America did the same to Brazil and later rebuilt it then your gaming consoles would be coming from country known for sexy women with nice butts.

Another example: I worked for Olympus R&D department a few years ago. Fields like engineering and science are not popular professions in Japan. Most of the research on all this technology Japan creates which you contribute to a homogenous society, largely comes from foreigners working there. The head of the projects are usually Japanese for obvious reasons. But the breakthroughs were usually created by foreigners who were contracted for research. It was also indicative of another company I worked for that was a subsidiary of Fujitsu. That is the advantage of diversity. New ideas and ways to solve problems to provide the best demand gaming system in the world.

Like someone else said Japan is good about sweeping secrets under the rug.

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I am for giving the Ainu all of their native land.

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I don`t want to take land from anyone. Ainu can do as they wish.

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What is happening to the Ainu has already happened to my peeps. Do you really think we can some day accept one another and live peacefully? Or is that all just a pipe dream? Are we ultimately much too aggressive for such cooperation? The people of the earth are all one people. Will there be a day when we realize the truth of that?

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Kosovo or S. Ossetia ? If the Ainu were to break away from Japan and reclaim Hokkaido, what do you think the West will do? Take the Kosovo route ( invade/bomb Japan ) or S.Ossetia way( helps the japanese Government to suppress Ainu culture, i.e. genocide in a sweet and slow way ) ? If Japanese support tibet independence from China, would they also support Ainu independence from Japan ?

pass the sake please.

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And thank you for being less of a dick than I was ;)

Internet arguments get nasty sometimes :D

First of all most the modern Japan we see today is mainly do to the reset button which took place after WWII. After the Americans came in, they were leap frogged into the industrial age. A chain reaction that echoed to all the other countries they touched during their campaign. (Korea, China. Phillipines etc.)

The reason why they are leaders in technology is because their culture are so open to embracing such things. Countries where it is not as important focus on other priorities. It has nothing to do with a homogenous culture but economics. (Supply&Demand, allocation of resources)Maybe if America did the same to Brazil and later rebuilt it then your gaming consoles would be coming from country known for sexy women with nice butts.

Another example: I worked for Olympus R&D department a few years ago. Fields like engineering and science are not popular professions in Japan. Most of the research on all this technology Japan creates which you contribute to a homogenous society, largely comes from foreigners working there. The head of the projects are usually Japanese for obvious reasons. But the breakthroughs were usually created by foreigners who were contracted for research. It was also indicative of another company I worked for that was a subsidiary of Fujitsu. That is the advantage of diversity. New ideas and ways to solve problems to provide the best demand gaming system in the world.

Like someone else said Japan is good about sweeping secrets under the rug.

Sounds like the system you just described to me works pretty well, its a way of embracing the benefits of diversity without an exploding foreign population. Japan seems to be doing well without importing labor from the third world. Bring in engineers from all over the world to help you develop robots to fill the labor gap without importing cheap factory workers from all over the world, sounds like a good plan.

As for the Ainu, I still feel they should promote their culture as part of Japan, not separate from it.

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What is happening to the Ainu has already happened to my peeps. Do you really think we can some day accept one another and live peacefully? Or is that all just a pipe dream? Are we ultimately much too aggressive for such cooperation? The people of the earth are all one people. Will there be a day when we realize the truth of that?

Yeah the day Buddhism becomes the worlds dominant religion, but until that day comes yes it is a pipe dream apparently.

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As a resident of this "God forlorn island", I'll say it's a good point that Ainu used to live also in much of Honshu. But the idea of their being pushed back and coralled is baseless bluster.

Nessie

If you think the Ainu used to live throughout all of Honshu, how do you explain current demographics? They just up and left?

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ProudKoreanguy

Korea and Japan use their nationalist myths of ethnic purity to bind their respective nations together. But myths aside, Korea and Japan are not mono-ethic. There are no mono-ethnic nations. The world is a bit more complex than national myths. All nations are comprised of multi-ethnic populations.

All.

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In fact, in Koreas case, they don't even have a united nation. Indeed, Korea has never really been a unified nation-state. Never.

Perhaps that is why Koreans are so nationalistic.

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DanManjt, If Korea was not mono-ethnic, then it certainly was monocultural - and still is, to a great extent. Now, you may refute that as well by citing that Korea's or Japan's culture is just some vartiation of cultures adopted from elsewhere. However, if you want to be that specific, then either terminology has no meaning or purpose, at all, and it should not be used. But, these two terms are used frequently by both media and academia everywhere, so what gives?

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ProudKoreanGuy

Korea is and never has been mono-ethnic, mono-cultural, or mono-linguistic. Within the penninsula there always has been diversity. Nowadays, Cheju most notably belies the assumed racial cultural and linguistic uniformity promoted my the nationalist myth.

The same nationalist myth that promotes the preposterous idea that the Chousan Dynasty was a nation-state.

It was not.

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