Two government surveys suggest a significant portion of the public remains unaware of the social hardships still faced by the indigenous Japanese who once occupied much of Hokkaido.
In one survey exclusively for the native Ainu, about 72 percent said discrimination and prejudice are still directed against their race.
In the other survey, 17.9 percent of non-Ainu Japanese said they weren’t aware of such issues.
The sharp contrast may reflect “insufficient understanding” of the Ainu by the general public, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday after the survey results were released.
The all-Ainu survey was the government’s first and queried 1,000 people 20 or older between Oct. 26 and Nov. 20 last year. Valid answers were mailed in by 70.5 percent of the respondents.
The survey of non-Ainu Japanese was the second since 2013 and based on interviews with 3,000 adults from Jan. 14 to 24. Valid responses were received from 57.6 percent of those interviewed.
In the all-Ainu survey, a multiple choice question found that 54.7 percent detect a vague sense of ethnic discrimination and prejudice, 51.4 percent have families and friends who had actually experienced discrimination, and 51.2 percent had heard specific stories about such treatment.
Individually, 36.6 percent said they had actually experienced discrimination.