• Kyodo

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A former member of the House of Councilors has announced plans to set up a community FM radio station and an Internet Web site for the dissemination of the Ainu language and culture.

Shigeru Sugano, 74, the former Ainu parliamentarian who now lives in the Nibutani district of Hiratori, Hokkaido, plans to begin monthly radio broadcasts with the help of five volunteers starting April 8.

The station, which will be based in Hiratori, will initially go on air for one hour on the second Sunday of every month, at 11 a.m.

Sugano says he plans to extend broadcast times after getting additional staff.

The station will be officially named FM Nibutani but is likely to be better known to local residents as FM Pipaushi. Pipaushi is the Ainu name for the Nibutani district.

“Language is evidence of a people’s existence,” Sugano said. “My hope is that more people will become interested in the Ainu language through radio.”

As the radio station will operate on weak FM signals that require no license, the broadcast can only be heard within the town.

Programs will feature traditional Ainu lyric poetry with a commentary by Sugano, the rapid-fire recitation of children learning the Ainu language and community information in Japanese.

The Web site, which is scheduled to be up and running by the end of this month, will feature issues affecting the Ainu people such as environmental destruction, human rights and transmission of the Ainu language in both Japanese and English.

The Web site will also have an e-mail section for exchanges with other indigenous peoples around the world.

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