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Japan to stipulate Ainu as 'indigenous people' in new law: sources

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A step in the right direction. From what I understand, even the Okinawans weren't considered real Japanese during the war.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Great ! Ainus seems to have been pretty much ignored until now, so anything that gives them a voice is welcome !

13 ( +13 / -0 )

There is a significant relationship between the Ainu and Ryukyuan people, and if the national government recognizes the Ainu, it should do the same and recognize the people down here too!

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Great to see, but embarrassingly late.

Another last minute feathering before the international eye focuses in 2020.

The initial statement of recognition in 2008 was a pathetic response from an indifferent government. They had been challenged to accept and recognize the status of the Ainu for decades but didn't budge, holding onto the 'Japan is homogeneous" narrative and also fearful of compensation claims.

They only moved in 2008 because the G7 summit was the following week and they were afraid of demonstrations and a negative spotlight to spoil their self-congratulatory party.

I hope the best for the Ainu future.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

All to the good, though they took their time about it, waited until they were almost non existent!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Well done Japan better late than never,

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Shameful business it has taken so long when the culture is almost on its last legs.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah great Japan, finally you get round to doing this when there are about 12 of them left alive...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is welcomed news, does this also mean that Japans government now acknowledges the fact that they came from what is now Korea?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

browny1 is right.

2020 organizers were having trouble coming up with the first act of the opening ceremony - telling the story of nihon's beginnings.

"I know! Ainu!"

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ever got married? The family will do a family history search of the register. If you are of brakku origin, the wedding will be cancelled. This will add another discrimination.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Ever got married? The family will do a family history search of the register. If you are of brakku origin, the wedding will be cancelled. This will add another discrimination.

Same thing if you are Okinawan.  I have many friends who are of Okinawan ancestry and have told me their experiences.  When their "pure" Japanese friends discovered their Okinawan ancestry and connections, the friendship and associations ended.   For those and other reasons, they are reluctant to admit their Okinawan lineage. 

But I've noticed the discrimination attitude is slowly changing, especially among the post 1972 generation the older generations are dying off and Japanese history is rewritten.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A step in the right direction. From what I understand, even the Okinawans weren't considered real Japanese during the war.

Okinawa once its own sovereign country with its own kingdom and government, until it was annexed by the Japanese in 1879 and occupied until 1945.  From 1945 until 1972 it was a U.S. Territory.  After 1972 it reverted back to being a Japanese prefecture.  But the number of "pure" Okinawans, who speak Uchinaaguchi (the indigenous Okinawan language) and carries on the traditions and culture are dwindling, most in their 90s now.  Many of those surviving Okinawans have bitter memories of the Japanese abuse, discrimination and treatment as low-class people.

Most of the post-1972 generation of Okinawans consider Okinawa to be a Japanese prefecture and themselves as Japanese and speak Japanese.  There are some Okinawans who are proud of their true Okinawan ancestry and wish Okinawa to be a independent sovereign nation again and free of U.S. and Japanese influence.

Watch John Junkerman's documentary, "Okinawa: The Afterburn".  It's a good (albeit with some anti-U.S. bias) documentary that depicts the tragic plight of the Okinawan people prior to, during and after World War 2, and its uncertain future.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kobe White Bar OwnerAug. 29  11:26 am JST

This is welcomed news, does this also mean that Japans government now acknowledges the fact that they came from what is now Korea?

They always have. But the Yaoi people came across around 300 BC whereas the Jomon (ancestors of Ainu) were there since 14000 BC so there has been a lot of intermingling making modern Japanese distinguishable from modern Koreans genetically. The relationship between very early Japan and the ancient Korean kingdom of Paekche (Kudara) is well known as there was intermarriage among the royal families.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

 But the number of "pure" Okinawans, who speak Uchinaaguchi (the indigenous Okinawan language) and carries on the traditions and culture are dwindling, most in their 90s now. 

You copy this from a textbook somewhere? First off the number of "pure" Okinawan's is in the hundred's of thousands, my wife is "pure" Okinawan and she sure as hell isn't in her 90's and she speaks at LEAST two different dialects of the Okinawan language.

The number of people who speak it as their first language is dwindling, as the language of Japan is Japanese, but things are not as bleak as you assume to think.

There are some Okinawans who are proud of their true Okinawan ancestry and wish Okinawa to be a independent sovereign nation again and free of U.S. and Japanese influence.

Some? Where do you get this from? Damn near every Okinawan is proud of their Okinawan heritage. And only a fringe few wing-nuts wish for independence. I have NEVER met any Okinawan that wasn't proud of their heritage, and believe me I can say with quite a bit of confidence that I have met literally tens of thousands of them.

They are Okinawan's by heritage and Japanese citizens, hence they should also be recognized as an indigenous people by the government as well!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But the number of "pure" Okinawans, who speak Uchinaaguchi

@Yubaru,

It should have read, "...the number of Okinawans who speak "pure" Uchinaaguchi...."

My wife's grandmother is in her 90s, originally from Itoman and born just prior to the beginning of the Showa era, and speaks Uchinaaguchi as her first language, Japanese as her second. She has commented many times the post-1945 generation speaks the language diluted with Japanese and today's younger generation Okinawans don't really know their history. That's understandable. Her grand- and great-grand nephews and nieces in Okinawa do not speak Uchinaaguchi at all. They consider themselves more "Japanese" than "Okinawans" and consider Okinawa to be a Japanese prefecture, rather than the once-sovereign country it was at one time.

Damn near every Okinawan is proud of their Okinawan heritage.

I acknowledge Okinawans are proud of their heritage and proud to wear it on their sleeves....so long as they are in Okinawa.....but when they go abroad, outside of Okinawa, do they proudly admit their Okinawan heritage in the presence of Japanese mainlanders?

Maybe some will, but many won't based on our observations and experiences. Outside Okinawa, my wife's mother is very adept at identifyng Okinawans vs Japanese. To the ones she knows are Okinawans, she will say a few Okinawan words and inquire what part of Okinawa they are from. Nine times out of ten, they pretend not to understand and refuse to admit they are from Okinawa. Another example: while on business in the U.S. many years ago, I met a man whose last name is "Higa". I asked what part of Okinawa he is from. He vehemently denied ever having been in Okinawa or having any Okinawan lineage in his ancestry. Okay, there are "Higas" who originate from Japanese, but the way this particular man vehemently denied any connection with Okinawa, speaks volumes of the prejudice attitude toward Okinawans by some Japanese.

That's my point. By the same token, I have never met any Japanese who admits they have Ainu ancestry, especially in the presence of other Japanese or otherwise.

So your mileage differs from mine, but that's my observations and experience. Take it or leave it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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