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Japan's Ainu bill finally recognizes its first inhabitants as "indigenous"



His Japanese mother was divorced and never told. Kano was 20 years old when he found out.

For decades, researchers and conservative Japanese politicians described the Ainu as "vanishing," says Jeffry Gayman, to Ainu People's Researcher at Hokkaido University.

Gayman says there is more than a thousand more people of Ainu descent who have gone uncounted – due to discrimination, many Ainu chose to hide their background and assimilate years ago, younger people in the dark about their heritage.

A bill, which was passed on Friday, has officially recognized the Ainu of Hokkaido as an "indigenous" people of Japan. The bill also includes measures to make Japan's more inclusive society for the Ainu.

Japanese land minister Keiichi Ishii told reporters

ISSUE IS HAPPYING A CREATIVE EXPOSURE an apology.

'Tree without roots'

Kano grew up in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, where he became fascinated with Jamaican reggae. Even without being aware of his ethnic identity, the political commentary underpinning the songs made an impression on him.

"Bob Marley sang that people who forget about their ancestors are the same as a tree without roots," says Kano, 62. "I checked the lyrics as a teenager, though they became more meaningful to me as I matured."

After discovering his ethnic origins, Kano was determined to learn more. He traveled to northern Hokkaido to meet his father and immediately felt an affinity with the Ainu community there ̵

1; the "Asahikawa," who are known for their anti-establishment stance.

Ainu rejected Kano for having grown up outside the community. [196590045] Ainu people Hokkaido, Russian Kuril Islands and Sakhalin, circa 1950. ” src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402004033-01-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-small-169.jpg” src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402004033-01-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-medium-plus-169.jpg” src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402004033-01-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-large-169.jpg” src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402004033-01-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-exlarge-169.jpg” src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402004033-01-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-super-169.jpg” src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402004033-01-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-full-169.jpg” src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402004033-01-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″/>

Yuji Shimizu, an Ainu elder, says he faced open discrimination while growing up in Hokkaido. He says other children call him and look for him.

The ninety-year-old former teacher

"My mother told me to forget" I wanted to be successful, "says Shimizu.

Ainu Moshir (Land of the Ainu)

The origins of the Ainu and their language remain unclear, though many theories exist.

They were early residents of northern Japan, in what is now the Hokkaido prefecture, and the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin, off the east coast of Russia. They revered bears and wolves, and worshiped gods embodied in the natural elements like water, fire and wind.

In the 15th century, the Japanese moved into various territories held by various Ainu groups to trade. But conflicts soon erupted, with many battles fought between 1457 and 1789. After the 1789 Battle of Kunasiri-Menasi, the Japanese conquered the Ainu.
Japan's modernization in the mid-1800s was accompanied by a growing sense of nationalism and, in 1899, the Auction of the Ainu seeks to assimilate the Hokkaido Shaper Aboriginal Protection Act.
 A family of Ainu gives a meal to a Western man in a sketch.

The Act implemented Japan's compulsory national education system in Hokkaido and Ainu land rights and claims.

Today, there are only two native Ainu speakers worldwide, according to the Endangered Languages ​​Project, an organization of indigenous groups and others researchers aimed at protecting endangered languages.
High levels of poverty and unemployment currently hinder the Ainu's social progress. The percentage of students attending high school and university is lower than the Hokkaido average.
The Ainu population thus appears to have shrunk. Official figures put the number of Ainu in Hokkaido at 17,000 in 2013, accounting for around 2% of the prefecture's population. In 2017, the most recent year on record, there were only about 13,000.

However, Gayman, the Ainu researcher, says that the number of Ainu could suggest a few times higher than official surveys suggest, because many have chosen not to identify as Ainu and others have forgotten their origins.

Finding music

Feeling neither Ainu nor Japanese, Kano left Japan in the late 1980s for New York.

While there were several Native Americans at a time when indigenous peoples were putting pressure on governments globally to recognize their rights. He credits them with awakening his political conscience as a member of the Ainu.

"I knew I had to reconnect with my Ainu heritage," he says. Kano made his way back to Japan and, in 1993, discovered a five-stringed instrument called the "Tonkori," which was considered a symbol of Ainu culture.

"he says, despite never having formally studied music. But finding a ton of masters to teach him something hard after years of cultural erasure.

So he uses old cassette tapes of Ainu music as a reference. In 2005, Kano created the Oki Dub Ainu group, which fuses Ainu influence with reggae, electronica and folk undertones. He created his own record label Ainu music to the world.

Since then, Kano has performed in Australia and toured Europe. He has also taken part in the United Nation's Working Group on Indigenous Populations on Voice.

New Law, New Future?

Mark John Winchester, a Japan-based indigenous rights expert, calls the new bill is a "small step forward" in terms of indigenous recognition and anti-discrimination, but it says "short of truly empowering the ainu people". "Self-determination, which should be the central pillar of indigenous policy-making, is not reflected in the law," says Winchester.

Winchester and Gayman So the government failed to consult all the Ainu groups when drafting the bill.

For the Ainu elder Shimizu, the new bill is missing an important part: atonement. "Why does not the government apologize?", Says Shimizu.

"The Japanese forcibly colonized us and annihilated our culture "Shimizu adds, referring to the 2019 bill's provision to open at Ainu culture museum in Hokkaido.

Japanese Indigenous Ainu men participate in a traditional ritual called Kamuinomi, held as part of the 2008 Indigenous Peoples Summit. ” src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402035502-03-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-restricted-small-169.jpg” src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402035502-03-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-restricted-medium-plus-169.jpg” src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402035502-03-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-restricted-large-169.jpg” src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402035502-03-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-restricted-exlarge-169.jpg” src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402035502-03-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-restricted-super-169.jpg” src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402035502-03-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-restricted-full-169.jpg” src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402035502-03-japan-ainu-indigenous-people-restricted-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″/>

Both Shimizu and Kano say the new law grants too much power to Japan's central government, which requires Ainu's approval for state-sponsored cultural projects. Furthermore, they say the bill should be more to promote education.

Currently, Ainu youths are eligible for scholarships and grants to study their own language and culture at a few select private universities. But Kano says: Ainu heritage, to support the Ainu people.

"Aim lawyers, film directors and professors," he says. "If that does not happen, the Japanese will always control our culture."


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