• Kyodo


The government plans to conduct its first full-fledged survey to grasp the reality of discrimination of the indigenous Ainu people in Japan, officials said Thursday.

The Cabinet Secretariat will request about ¥7 million in the budget for the nationwide survey planned for fiscal 2015 after a government opinion poll last year on its Ainu policies in general showed about one-third of respondents felt the Ainu are not treated equally at present.

In the survey, the government will ask either by phone or via a questionnaire sent by mail how the public feels about the Ainu in detail, with such questions as “In what kind of scenarios have you felt discrimination against the Ainu?”

A Sapporo assemblyman recently drew criticism for posting comments online stating the Ainu people, who live mainly in Hokkaido, “no longer exist” and suggesting those who identify as Ainu are motivated by government programs benefiting the ethnic minority.

In a related development in Sapporo, the 43-year-old assemblyman, Yasuyuki Kaneko, was urged by his assembly faction to leave the group formed by ruling Liberal Democratic Party members and others. He told reporters that he will take the request “seriously” and will “follow” it.

The faction initially planned not to punish Kaneko, saying that the statement was “based on his personal views.” But it changed its mind amid mounting criticism.

The Ainu, who have lived for centuries in Hokkaido and nearby areas including Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, have their own language and customs.

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