SAPPORO (Kyodo) Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi told the prefectural assembly Friday she is hoping to establish a Day of the Ainu People to promote public understanding about Hokkaido’s indigenous population.

Takahashi also said she has proposed the idea at a meeting of a government panel working to enhance Ainu policies.

If the state remains reluctant to accept the proposal, “Hokkaido could establish the day independently ahead of the central government,” Takahashi, one of the eight members of the panel, told the assembly.

The panel was set up after Japan recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people last June, and will issue its report by around July.

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