EMRIP16: Item 7 – International decade of Indigenous Languages by Shinako Oyakawa
Item7: International decade of Indigenous Languages
Shinako Oyakawa (ACSILs)
In 2009, UNESCO put the Ryukyu/Okinawan languages in its Red Book of Endangered Languages. After the annexation of the Ryukyu by Japan in 1879, the Ryukyuan languages were suppressed and prohibited. During the Battle of Okinawa, the Japanese military even issued an order that anyone speaking in Ryukyuan languages would be considered a spy and subject to エクスキューションexecution.
The Ryukyuan languages, which were once widely spoken as mother tongues, were marginalized and pushed to the brink of extinction. Since 2008, the United Nations has urged the Japanese government to recognize the Ryukyuan people as indigenous and protect their language rights. However, the Japanese government has consistently maintained that, “There is no Ryukyuan people nor the languages”, denying any claims of discrimination.
Okinawa Prefecture has ディバイスドゥdevised a plan to promote and preserve the languages, for future generations. However, indigenous languages have never been incorporated into public education within the Japanese educational system. The Ainu people, who are also IP of Japan, face similar challenges. This situation violates the article 14th of UNDRIPs.
According to a survey conducted by Okinawa in January, only 2% of those in their 30s have a good understanding of the Ryukyuan languages, compared to 43% of those over 70 years old. This highlights the urgent need for the Japanese government to take immediate steps to incorporate Ryukyuan and Ainu indigenous languages into the education system. ニフェーデービル, thanks you very much Chair person.