Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony

The Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony, as a national center for revitalizing Ainu culture, is to be developed around Lake Poroto in Shiraoi, Hokkaido prefecture, Japan.

The national government, together with Ainu people and others, is now considering specific functions and facilities of the Space.

Photo: Lake Poroto & replicated traditional Ainu houses.
© Ainu Museum of Shiraoi.

Ainu Language

The Ainu language is a unique language of the Ainu people. Although it has been classified as a critically endangered language by UNESCO, many people are learning it to succeed to the next generation.

Let's learn the word of the Ainu language!

From Basic Ainu Language - Chitose dialect
by Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture.

Canoe (cip)

A dugout canoe called cip was once an important means of transportation for Ainu people.

Photo: Replicated canoe on Lake Poroto.
© Ainu Museum of Shiraoi.

Ainu Handicrafts

Ainu men have created beautiful woodcarvings with traditional, unique patterns through the ages.

Photo: makiri (knife), tasiro (heavy knife) and ita (tray).
© Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture.

Council for Ainu Policy Promotion

About the Council:

  • The Council for Ainu Policy Promotion aims to comprehensively and effectively promote Ainu policy, taking views and opinions of Ainu people into consideration.
  • The Council was set up in December 2009, based on the Report of the Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy in July 2009, and is hosted by the Chief Cabinet Secretary.
  • With the participation of several Ainu representatives, the Council now works on the realization of recommendations by the former Advisory Council.

Members:

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Meetings and Topics

  • Jul 31, 2012
  • Relevant ministries decided the "Master Plan for the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony".
  • Jul 6, 2012
  • 4th Meeting of the Council
    • Working Group for Ainu Policy Promotion reported the progress of their consideration and recommended initiatives to be taken by the government.
  • Aug 31, 2011
  • New "Working Group for Ainu Policy Promotion" was established.
  • Jan 24, 2011
  • 3rd Meeting of the Council
    • Two working groups finalized their consideration and submitted their reports to the Council.
  • Aug 24, 2010
  • 2nd Meeting of the Council
  • Mar 11, 2010
  • Following two working groups were established:
    • Working Group for the "Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony"
    • Working Group for the Research on Living Conditions of Ainu People outside Hokkaido
  • Jan 29, 2010
  • 1st Meeting of the Council
  • Dec 25, 2009
  • Chief Cabinet Secretary decided to set up the Council.
  • Jul 29, 2009
  • Final Report of the former Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy was submitted to Chief Cabinet Secretary.

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Overview of Ainu Policy in Japan

The Ainu People

Map of Japan
  • The Ainu people are an indigenous people who have lived around the northern part of the Japanese Archipelago, especially in Hokkaido, with a unique language as well as religious and cultural distinctiveness.
  • The population of Ainu people living in Hokkaido is estimated at about 24,000, or 0.4% of the region's total, according to the 2006 survey by the Hokkaido prefectural government.

For Improvement of Living Standards of Ainu People

  • Since 1974, the Hokkaido prefectural government has been implementing measures for the improvement of living standards of Ainu people, with the financial support by the national government.
  • A variety of services provided by the prefectural government include: scholarships; welfare counseling services; job placement support; infrastructure development for agriculture, forestry, and fishery; and training in craft skills.

For Promotion of Ainu Culture

  • In May 1997, the Ainu Culture Promotion Act was enacted, based on which the national government together with relevant organizations takes measures to promote Ainu culture including the Ainu language and foster the public understanding of the history and culture of the Ainu.
  • The major actor of Ainu culture promotion, besides Ainu people and their organizations, is the Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture (FRPAC). The FRPAC was designated in November 1997 as the juridical person to implement the business concerning the promotion of Ainu culture, etc., based on the Act.
  • The FRPAC, with the financial support by the national and Hokkaido prefectural governments, offers a variety of opportunities for Ainu people to learn and inherit their own culture.

Current Topics

From UN Declaration to the Advisory Council
  • In September 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which gave a certain conclusion to the long-term UN debates on indigenous peoples.
  • Correspondingly, the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors unanimously adopted the "Resolution to Recognize the Ainu as an Indigenous People" on June 6, 2008.
  • In response to these, the Chief Cabinet Secretary expressed the government’s position in his statement on the same day of the Diet's resolutions, which said,
    Not only will the government further enhance the Ainu policies taken so far, but it will make efforts to establish comprehensive policy measures, in reference to relevant clauses of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with the recognition that the Ainu are an indigenous people who have lived around the northern part of the Japanese Archipelago, especially in Hokkaido, with a unique language as well as religious and cultural distinctiveness.
    - excerpt from the statement of the Chief Cabinet Secretary on June 6, 2008.
  • In July 2008, the Chief Cabinet Secretary called a high-level expert council, the Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy, to consider principles and measures for future Ainu policy in Japan.
  • The Advisory Council, with the representative of the Ainu people, reviewed the history of the Ainu and their indigenousness, and comprehensively considered new principles and measures. In July 2009, after about one year deliberation, the Advisory Council submitted its Final Report to the Chief Cabinet Secretary.
After the Advisory Council
  • Based of the Report of the Advisory Council, the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion was set up in December 2009, hosted by the Chief Cabinet Secretary.
  • The Council for Ainu Policy Promotion aims to comprehensively and effectively promote Ainu policy, taking views and opinions of Ainu people into consideration. In particular, the Council now works on the realization of comprehensive recommendations by the former Advisory Council, which identified policy priorities in Japan with reference to the UN Declaration.
  • To ensure this, the Council is comprised of 14 members in total, among which five are Ainu representatives, five from scholars and experts on Ainu culture and human rights, and the remaining four from the leaders of the national and local governments.
  • The Council has made steady progress in consideration of a variety of policies. Among them, the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony was proposed by the former Advisory Council as the key project of its final report. The Symbolic Space, as a national center for revitalizing Ainu culture, is to be developed around Lake Proto in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, Japan. On the ground of the work of the Council's working groups, the national government, together with Ainu people and others, is now considering specific functions and facilities of the Symbolic Space.

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Links

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