The Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology has issued a statement expressing regret and apology for its past research stance on the country's Ainu indigenous people.

It is the first time that an academic society in Japan or abroad has apologized to the Ainu people, according to the Ainu Association of Hokkaido.

The apology comes after a series of lawsuits filed in the 2010s demanding the return of the remains of Ainu people dug up for research purposes.

The statement said that the mistakes of the past caused by the belief in research supremacy can never be settled, and that the society sincerely regrets its past research attitude toward the Ainu people and offers its heartfelt apology.