From a Dying Race to an Indigenous People
This chapter starts with an examination of the long history of Ainu’s subjugation to mainland Japanese and their quiet acquiescence until the 1970s, when the Hokkaido Utari Association began to engage in international exchange. The international experiences from the 1970s gradually transformed Ainu leaders’ movement actorhood, leading to much more assertive collective mobilization by Ainu that leveraged international human rights forums with help from transnational activists. Their international activities exerted significant pressures on the Japanese government, prompting legislation of new laws to protect and promote Ainu culture and an official recognition of Ainu as an indigenous people. Ainu activists also contributed to the consolidation and expansion of international human and indigenous rights forums, legitimating the issue of indigenous rights outside typical settler colonies such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, and bringing in some resources to international indigenous forums.
Keywords: Indigenous peoples’ rights, Hokkaido Utari/Ainu Association, Meiji Restoration, Hokkaido Former Aborigines Protection Act, United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, United Nations Working Group on Draft Declaration, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Shimin Gaikō Center (Citizens Diplomacy Center), International Labor Organization
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