The Japanese government yesterday introduced a bill to recognize the country’s ethnic Ainu minority as an “indigenous” people for the first time, following decades of discrimination against the group.
The Ainu people — many of whom live in northern Hokkaido — have long suffered the effects of a policy of forced assimilation, and while discrimination has receded gradually, income and education gaps with the rest of Japan persist.
“It is important to protect the honor and dignity of the Ainu people, and to hand those down to the next generation to realize a vibrant society with diverse values,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
“Today we made a Cabinet decision on a bill to proceed with policies to preserve the Ainu people’s pride,” he said.
The bill is the first to recognize the Ainu as “indigenous people” and calls for the government to make “forward-looking policies,” including measures to support communities and boost local economies and tourism.
The Ainu have long suffered oppression and exploitation, and the modern Japanese government in the late 19th century banned them from practicing their customs and using their language.
The Ainu traditionally observed an animist faith, with men wearing full beards and women adorning themselves with facial tattoos before marriage.
However, like many indigenous people worldwide, most of Japan’s Ainu have lost touch with their traditional lifestyle after decades of forced assimilation policies.
The Ainu population is estimated to be at least 12,300, according to a 2017 survey, but the real figure is unknown, as many have integrated into mainstream society and some have hidden their cultural roots.
“It is the first step for ensuring equality under the law,” said Mikiko Maruko, who represents a group of Ainu people in eastern Japan near Tokyo.
“There are lots of things to be done; for example, creating a scholarship for families who struggle to send their children to high schools,” she said, referring to a system currently only available to Ainu in Hokkaido.
Under the new plan, the government would also allow the Ainu to cut down trees in nationally owned forests for use in traditional rituals.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative