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Japan court denies salmon fishing rights to Ainu people

41 Comments
By Tomohiro OSAKI

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Ainu trying to preserve their culture by getting their Salmon in their river is against law in Japan.

However, hunting whale is not only being protected and claimed as Japanese culture, it's also get funding support from JGovt.

https://wwf.panda.org/es/?167621/Norway-Japan-prop-up-whaling-industry-with-taxpayer-money

https://en.mercopress.com/2013/02/27/fisheries-minister-says-japan-will-never-stop-hunting-whales-it-s-part-of-our-culture

-12 ( +25 / -37 )

Fairness and equality are not words often heard in Japan…

-20 ( +19 / -39 )

Strange decision. Was it a legitimate request to fish for local Ainu populations to consume themselves or was their cause hijacked by a business trying to use the cultural heritage card to make a cannery. Information on the scale of the proposal would’ve been good.

9 ( +16 / -7 )

It is Japan after all. Ainu were only granted status as indigenous peoples in 2008.

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

Ainu were forced to abandon traditional hunting practices, speak Japanese and take Japanese names.

Hmmm. Can't call it what it is.

-10 ( +10 / -20 )

Usual rubber stamp bunk from the corrupt Japanese courts!

3 ( +13 / -10 )

The Hokkaido prohibition on the fishing of salmon in rivers is driven by the Fisheries Unions who don't want their bread and butter touched. They are behind the poliiticians who influence the Courts. All salmon taken both commercially and recreationally are taken at sea. This prohibition applies to all Japanese not just those of Ainu extraction.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

That's capitalism, folks!

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Ainu were forced to abandon traditional hunting practices, speak Japanese and take Japanese names.those ainu rights needed to be protected and supported.

it is everybody's fish. bear can eat fish but not the Ainu..... crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Japan annexed the Innu territory using illegal coercion and killed millions of Ainu people....

As, japan gives food to Japanese judges and not to Ainu, no wonder that 4 years of TATEMAE BS trial took place....

Sadly, as Ainu are condemned in Japan, they should move to Russia and unite with other remaining Ainu families. Russia will welcome them!

-21 ( +5 / -26 )

Shame on Japan for destroying Ainu traditions. Meanwhile, Japanese still hunt for whales because they argue that it's Japanese tradition. Hypocrites!!!

-10 ( +13 / -23 )

This article fails to make clear 2 very pertinent points.

This is not an effort to quash Ainu tradition. Salmon fishing in the rivers is banned for all Japanese regardless of Ainu extraction. It was a good effort to try and overturn this prohibition on the basis of indigenous tradition but probably knocked down because it would open the door to lifting the highly unfair prohibition.

The Ainu already are permitted limited salmon fishing in the rivers for the sake of preserving tradition. This is something that everyone else in Hokkaido are not permitted to do.

The blanket ban is wrong.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

The Japanese should not have to feel bad about forcing the Ainu people to abandon traditional hunting practices, speak Japanese and take Japanese names. That's what strong nations do.

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

The USA is able to do wonderful altruistic and human affirming policies at times. Take a look, Japan.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe have signed agreements to restore Chinook salmon to the mountains north of Redding, California.

The agreements support a joint effort to return Chinook salmon to their original spawning areas in cold mountain rivers now blocked by Shasta Reservoir in northern California. The goal is ecological and cultural restoration which will one day renew fishing opportunities for the tribe that depended on the once-plentiful salmon for food and much more.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/tribe-state-and-federal-partners-join-return-endangered-salmon-historic-habitat

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

So no to salmon

but whales and dolphins okay.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

The Hokkaido prohibition on the fishing of salmon in rivers is driven by the Fisheries Unions who don't want their bread and butter touched. They are behind the poliiticians who influence the Courts.

There you go, the real reason. To protect yet another Showa rooted monopoly.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan's fishery resources protection law in principle bars people from catching salmon in rivers regardless of their ethnicity.

Japan apparently has an ethnically diverse salmon population.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Or ethnically diverse rivers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Law must apply the same for everyone regardless of ethnicity. It sound like the right decision.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Good luck finding more than a handful of Ainu people. Hundreds of years of assimilation has resulted in people with Ainu heritage only. Why should anyone regardless of blood, heritage or any other reason have the sole right to something just because an ancient ancestor lived in the area?

Who built the roads in Hokkaido? Gas? electricity? hospitals? Whose taxes pay for most of the development in Hokkaido?

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

As someone already mentioned, what the plantiff was seeking is to have sort of "exclusivity" rights to fish without permision in rivers.

Something that it is not permited for any one in Japan. If you want to fish in rivers and lakes, you have to gain permission by the local government to do so (normally a very easy and fast procedure).

Yes before the asimilation of the Ainu people, they may had been using the rivers as they wanted, but once asimilated and the terrotories in Hokkaido been part of Japan they cannot claim property of a river and water resourses.

Also, and this has been said by others in here too, the Japanese government is not in anyway supressing the cultural heritage.

All other commentators and should thinkg and make some considerations before pointing fingers.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

A very fair and reasonable decision. In 2024, the courts and Japanese government certainly do not discriminate in any way against Ainu or any other ethnic minority.

Ainu are recognised by the Japanese government and their rich and unique culture is very much respected. They have all the privileges as Japanese people.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Livehood is ensured, they can buy or adquire the permits to fish salmon.. or any other food stuff they need and is available.

Ethnic is also ensured (now) in the past yes that happened, but Ainu are recognized now forunately. In some cases other etnicities in Japan like the yayoi and emshi had been asimilated to the Yamato ethnicity that currently is hard (impossible) to identify one and the other

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Salmon fishin is not denied.. what is denied is the claim of "ownership" right of a river(s) to fish salmon... were the river, whater and the salmon are considered resources of the entirty of Japan (wich the Ainu are too) and should not be given exlusivity of usage

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Daniel Neagari

Today 05:37 pm JST

@ian

> Salmon fishin is not denied.. what is denied is the claim of "ownership" right of a river(s) to fish salmon

Ownership?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Not just "a bid by Ainu Indigenous people to reclaim rights over river fishing for salmon,"?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Even in the Edo period, 400 years ago, the Ainu population was less than 100,000. How can you kill millions of people?

In the first place, the Ainu people are known to have inherited a strong genetic heritage from the northern Tungus people, are a mixed race with the Jomon people, and are a subjugated people.

In other words, to put it simply, they were Jomon people who were ruled by Russians.

From the Japanese perspective, Japan did not conquer Hokkaido, but rather took it back from the Russians. Assimilation policies have been implemented since the Edo period, but in modern times progress has been made in preserving the culture and customs of ethnic minorities.

If they want to maintain their identity, they are now free to choose not to marry a Japanese person while still obeying Japanese law.

The court's ruling is not a case of oppression of the Ainu, but merely a ruling based on a law that applies equally and fairly to both Japanese and ethnic minorities.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Japan is on the right track here.

They should not go down the road of giving special rights and privileges to minorities as Australian states have done with Aborigines. For example, they do not need a fishing license unlike all other citizens, and are permitted higher catch limits.

One rule for all should always be the way.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

There are no Ainu, it’s too late, they are gone. However many “theme parks” are set up in Hokkaido will not change this.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

There are no Ainu, it’s too late, they are gone.

Have you told them? They still seem to be existing in Hokkaido... Maybe they didn't get your memo that they're supposed to, um, stop existing?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Once again, the original Native Japanese get stepped on by a government.

All over the world it's the same - Native American peoples, Aussie Aborigines, Māori, Igorot, Laplanders, Eskimos, the first Madagascans, Dravidians, all. Original peoples getting the sham.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Screw 'em, fish it anyway!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@OssanAmerica

 This prohibition applies to all Japanese not just those of Ainu extraction.

In Japan there are many laws that create exception there are special law for many type of gambling, there are many law for "security", Japan can make one for Ainu but choose not too.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

sakurasukiToday  07:20 am JST

@OssanAmerica

 This prohibition applies to all Japanese not just those of Ainu extraction.

In Japan there are many laws that create exception there are special law for many type of gambling, there are many law for "security", Japan can make one for Ainu but choose not too.

Limited salmon fishing in the rivers for preserving Ainu tradition is already being carried out.

Apart from tradition, some limited recreational salmon fishing is allowed under permit for all Japanese including Ainu.

Over the last 10 years there has been a movement to change the law to allow Ainu to fish without a permit.

"The chairman of a group representing Japan's indigenous Ainu people on Sept. 15 called for guarantees of indigenous rights, after he was hit with a criminal complaint for salmon fishing in Japan's northernmost prefecture without a license."

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190916/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Once again, the original Native Japanese get stepped on by a government.

All over the world it's the same - Native American peoples, Aussie Aborigines, Māori, Igorot, Laplanders, Eskimos, the first Madagascans, Dravidians, all. Original peoples getting the sham.

Why should minority groups get special entitlements and privileges? It is disgraceful that in the US, as just one example, the native American Indians are given the right to operate casinos and gambling. Why should they be entitled to this huge money-spinner (generating $Billions) when other racial groups are not?

All laws must apply to ALL races.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Fighto

All laws must apply to ALL races.

Try to look on history, if only each race just stay where they belong, one fit for all colonialization territory style rule won't happen in the first place. Problem arise when one race try to get more land and resources, while making claim and existing indigenous being kicked out in process, indigenous also need to obey whatever ridiculous rule colonizer brought, while dropping their own existing cultural practice.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lidia-thorpe-indigenous-australian-senator-colonizing-queen-elizabeth-oath-of-office/

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@OssanAmerica

Check again from that news website that you gave, so prefectural government can decide and report anytime they want to considered that's illegal practice. Why prefectural government can do that, because there's no legal protection for Ainu people to do so. Those Ainu already done that practice long before Hokkaido being named Ezo, long before Japanese constitution being dictated by Gen Macarthur.

Even from that news, Prof Maruyama said fishing right of indigenous people are guaranteed by international law. Japan need to catch up with that.

They need to fight for everything, even their ancestor remain that being used for "research" finally being brought back to them just recently.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/05/07/national/australia-ainu-remains-japan-80-years/

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2024/04/03/japan/society/academic-society-apology-ainu/

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The picture attached above reminds me of a group of young people playing bowling one lane next to ours at a Washington bowling center in 1961. They looked so much like Japanese that I asked one of them if they were Japanese. He smiled and answered, "No, we are Eskimos (Inuits)." So much so that the Japanese and the Eskimos look alike.   

That means that about ten thousand years ago a large group of north-bound tribes migrating in the Asian continent were bifurcated in an area near Kamchatska Peninsula. One group crossed iced Bering Strait on dog sledding and settled in Alaska as Alaskan Eskimos; another group, including Ainu, came to the Japanese Archipelago via Sakhalin and Hokkaido

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Strangerland....

Have you told them? They still seem to be existing in Hokkaido... Maybe they didn't get your memo that they're supposed to, um, stop existing?

They already know. There are people with Ainu “heritage “ but hardly any pure Ainu. They will tell you exactly this if you ask them.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I should add estimates put the number at less than a hundred and down to a handful in two generations.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

On the other hand, Oceanic tribes came to the Japanese archipelago, hopping island by island. There are two theories then to explain the origin of the Japanese people. One theory says they came from the north (the southward-bound theory) and the other theory assumes that they came from the south (northward-bound theory).

The two theories may be amalgamated, and so one can safely say that the original settlers in Japan came both from the north and the south. Both tribes lived in peace and harmony for centuries, forming an intricate earthenware culture called the Jomon Culture. Then, about two millenniums ago, the Yayoi tribe came to Kyushu in hoards from the watershed area of Liao River in China via Korean Peninsula. It's said that they were forced to move out because of a weather change.

The Yayoi people themselves seem to have been composed of two groups: the Yamato clan, a rice farming agrarian people, and the Amami clan, an agrarian people but also engaged in fishery. They were fishing and farming people. But both spoke the same language: Wago or Japanese.

The Yamato clan advanced inland toward the east and the north of the Archipelago, while the Amami clan moved toward the southwest islands. However. the Amami clan's advancement stopped short of Taiwan, whereby there is a clear linguistic demarcation between languages spoken by indigenous peoples in Taiwan and the Yonaguni islanders in Okinawa. Languages spoken in Okinawa are basically Japanese.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

sakurasukiToday  10:50 am JST

@OssanAmerica

Check again from that news website that you gave, so prefectural government can decide and report anytime they want to considered that's illegal practice. Why prefectural government can do that, because there's no legal protection for Ainu people to do so.

Salmon fishing in the rivers has been banned in Hokkaido since 1883. This applied and continues to apply to all Japanese as well as Ainu, who are by their own admission; Japanese.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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