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Japan: Official Recognition of Ainu as Indigeneous People

(Sept. 5, 2008) The Diet (Japan's parliament) passed a resolution on June 6, 2008, to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people. On the same day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura released a comment on the resolution, in which he acknowledged the suffering of the Ainu and recognized them as an indigenous people. There are currently an estimated 150,000 Ainu, located mostly in the northern region of the country.

On July 1, 2008, Machimura decided to establish the Panel of Experts for Ainu Policy. The panel is now discussing measures to recognize the rights and promote the culture of the Ainu, among other issues. (Ainu minzoku o senjū minzoku to suru koto o motomeru ketsugi [Resolution on Recognition of Ainu as Indigenous People], No. 169th Diet Session, House of Representatives (June 6, 2008) and House of Councillors (June 6, 2008); Ainu seisaku no arikata ni kansuru yūshikisha kondaikai no kaisai ni tsuite [Regarding Establishment of Expert Panel for Ainu Policy], Chief Cabinet Secretary Decision, July 1, 2008, available at