EMRIP16: Item 6 – Joint Statement from Two Indigenous Groups Ainu and Ryuku-Okinawa Japan
16th session of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Item 6 Country engagement
Shimin Gaikou Centre and ACSILs
Dear Chair person.
Thanks Chair person, I’m Maya Sekine from Shimin gaikou center. This is a joint statement from two indigenous groups Ainu and Ryukyu/Okinawa in Japan.
The Government of Japan has not prepared a national plan for the implementation of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, which was recommended for preparation in implementing UNESCO’s Action Plan.
It is crucial that development plans for indigenous languages are specifically designed to meet the needs and aspirations of indigenous peoples. We, the indigenous Ainu and Ryukyu communities residing in Japan, firmly believe in our right to determine the structure of the project, its duration, and the methods employed. Article 14 of the UN Declaration reinforces this notion, affirming that indigenous peoples have the right to establish and manage their educational systems and institutions, providing education in their own languages, employing culturally appropriate teaching and learning methods.
In light of this, our objective is to create educational materials and establish educational institutions that offer instruction in Ainu and Ryukyuan languages, beginning with nursery schools. To achieve this, we first appeal to the Japanese government to formulate a comprehensive national plan. We emphasize the necessity of developing a plan centered on the Ainu community for the Ainu language and another one centered on the Ryukyuan community for the Ryukyuan languages. These plans should address the following measures:
- Official Recognition: Officially recognize Aynu and Ryukyuan languages as official languages in Japan.
- Language Weeks: Introduce dedicated weeks, such as an Ainu Language Week and a Ryukyuan Languages Week, to raise awareness and celebrate the linguistic heritage of these indigenous communities.
- Language Education: Incorporate Ainu and Ryukyuan languages into the school education system to foster the preservation and promotion of these languages among younger generations.
Thank you, Chairperson.