Delegates for indigenous peoples from around the world, including Ainu and Okinawans, gathered this week at the United Nations to discuss measures to ensure their political representation and freedom from discrimination in the first U.N.-backed conference of its kind.

Kazushi Abe, vice president of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, and Shisei Toma, of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples in the Ryukyus, an Okinawa civic association, were among those invited to speak at the two-day World Conference on Indigenous Peoples through Tuesday.

The two-day conference focused on the implementation by the U.N. and national and local governments of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Rights, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007.