EMRIP16: Item 6 – Country Engagement – Japan
Sixteenth session UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Item 6 (Country Engagement)
Yukihito Yaegashi (Rehe Isam).
Thank you, Chairperson.
I am Yukihito Yaegashi, an Aynu person. Thank you for the opportunity to share with you the situation of the Aynu policy in recent years by the Government of Japan.
In 2008, the Government of Japan recognised the Aynu people as an Indigenous people, and seemingly it had been working on the policy, and in 2019, it enacted a new law called the Aynu Policy Promotion Act. The Japanese Government is aiming to end its Indigenous policy by creating this Act. However, this law is in effect an assimilation law. The Japanese State must end its assimilation policy as soon as possible and implement its Indigenous policy.
First, the Act does not recognise the Aynu people’s rights as Indigenous peoples. The Aynu are unable to learn about Aynu history, culture and language in public education. Until the invasion of the Japanese people, the Aynu have lived off the natural resources of the Aynu land of Yaunmosir, including going into the forests to cut trees, going into the rivers to catch salmon, and catching fish and seaweed in the sea. While depriving these peoples of their inherent rights as peoples, they refuse to recognise them at all. In other words, various Indigenous peoples’ rights, which are recognised in the UN Declaration, are not respected.
Also, as this law does not define Indigenous peoples, many Japanese people consider the Aynu to be a mere ethnic minority. However, we Aynu are an Indigenous people, not an ethnic minority. Besides, as there is no definition of who is the Aynu, even non-Aynu can use this law to receive grants. Furthermore, it is the local governments that apply for these grants, and Aynu cannot apply for them, and they are used for things that have nothing to do with ethnic policies, such as regional development or tourism promotion. This is a public project for the Japanese people in the name of Aynu. In fact, the biggest recipients of money from this scheme are Japanese companies. The Japanese state has perpetrated this deception and lied to the international community as if it is implementing an Indigenous policy.
The law is subject to a five-year review, which will take place next year, and the Japanese government has agreed to conduct country engagement with EMRIP. In doing so, we call on the Government of Japan to improve this Aynu Policy Promotion Act and contribute to its sincere commitment to guaranteeing the rights of the Indigenous peoples of the Aynu.
Thank you very much. Iyairaikere.