Japan enacted legislation Friday aimed at protecting and promoting the culture of the Ainu ethnic minority through financial assistance, while at the same time stipulating for the first time that they are an "indigenous" people.

The law requires the central and local governments to promote Ainu culture and industry, including tourism, in order to correct long-standing socioeconomic disparities faced by the group. But some Ainu have criticized the legislation, saying it will not do enough to reverse historical discrimination.

Although the law was enacted amid a rise in global awareness about promoting and protecting minority rights, it does not stipulate rights to self-determination and education for the Ainu despite both rights being acknowledged in the 2007 U.N. declaration on the rights of indigenous people.