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@How far back were the Ainu and related people documented?

The word gEmishih appears in gKojikih (the Record of Ancient Matters, the oldest surviving book in Japan) and gNihon Shokih (the Chronicles of Japan, the second oldest surviving book in Japan), both of which were published early in the eighth century. gEmishih referred to people living north of the Kanto Region (Greater Tokyo), who were insubordinate to the authority of the Imperial Court. The pronunciation of the Chinese characters designating gEmishih changed to gEzoh in the ninth century and the word gEzoh is believed to have been used to refer to various ethnic groups, particularly the Ainu.

@What is the name of the book which documented the Ainu in the Edo Period?

It is gKinsei Ezo Jinbutsu Shih (the Stories of Recent Ezo Personalities) written approximately in the fourth year of Ansei (1867) by Takeshiro Matsuura. The book is a collection of stories about individual Ainu living in Ainu villages in Hokkaido as well as in Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. It vividly describes the cruel behavior of fish merchants that monopolized local markets with the support of the ruling Matsumae Clan and the daily life of the destitute Ainu subjected to their cruelty.

@What is the Hokkaido Former Aborigines Protection Act?

It was enacted in 1899 and has many similarities to the 1887 Dawes Act in the United States, which the Meiji Government is said to have studied and used as a model for its Japanese version. The Act was a colonial law with a clear intention to make the Ainu farmers by granting them tracts of land and assimilate them into the Japanese mainstream, and laid down an ideological framework to "protect" the "uncivilized" Ainu and lead them to a more sanitary and modernized life style. At around the same time, archeological and anthropological interest in the Ainu heightened and researchers dug up Ainu burial grounds without the permission of the relevant Ainu, and took away many bones, skulls and other burial items.

@What are the Ainu-specific Welfare Measures?

The Ainu-specific Welfare Measures, which were modeled on the gDowah Special Measures for a discriminated minority group called gBurakuminh, started in 1974 in order to implement the basic government policy to stabilize livelihood, improve education, secure employment, develop industry and promote organizational activities for the Ainu. However, these measures are insufficient in that unlike the gDowah Special Measures, they are not backed by legislation and exclude the Ainu living outside Hokkaido. The Ainu in Greater Tokyo have submitted a petition to the Advisory Panel of Experts requesting that the Ainu living outside of Hokkaido should also be entitled to the benefits of the Ainu-specific Welfare Measures. The Advisory Panel of Experts was established to provide policy advice to the Japanese Government on appropriate measures for the Ainu as an indigenous people of Japan.

@What is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

The draft of the Declaration had been under discussion between national governments and indigenous peoples for more than two decades at the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (established uner the Human Rights Commission), before it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2006. It sets out the rights of indigenous peoples and prohibits discrimination against them. 143 countries voted in favor with four countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America) against and 11 countries abstaining. The Japanese Government voted in favor of the Declaration, and its representative made a speech after the vote explaining its position in supporting the Declaration. However, his speech was only a hollow tribute to the Declaration, as the official position of the Japanese Government was that there were no indigenous people in Japan - despite the fact that the Ainu had been accepted as indigenous by the UN.

@What was the purpose of the petition drive?

The campaign was initiated by the Liaison Committee for the four Ainu associations in Greater Tokyo in order to call on the Japanese Government to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people of Japan. The first wave of the campaign conducted in Ginza, Tokyo, from March to May 2008, collected 6419 individual signatures and 180 organizational signatures, which were submitted to the Diet in May.
The campaign continued until November 23 and the total number of signatures collected were 12,070 from individuals and 275 from organizations.

@What is the Indigenous Peoples Summit?

The Indigenous Peoples Summit in Ainu mosir 2008 was conceived and implemented through the initiative of young Ainu as a counter summit to the G8 Summit. It was held from July 1 to July 4, with representatives from 22 indigenous peoples in 12 countries. It issued an Appeal to the Japanese Government and the Nibutani Declaration, which is a package of recommendations to the G8 Summit reflecting the indigenous peoplesf point of view. The Appeal and the Declaration were submitted to the G8 governments.

@Reference Books

Race, Resistance and the Ainu of Japan
By Richard Siddle (Author)

The Ainu
by Kayano Shigeru (Author)

Our Land Was a Forest
by Kayano Shigeru (Author)

The Ainu of Japan
by Barbara Aoki Poisson (Author)

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