A member of the Hokkaido prefectural assembly stirred another controversy by stating that it is “highly questionable” that the Ainu are an indigenous people of northern Japan. His statement is an insult to the Ainu people, who are making efforts to preserve their identity and cultural tradition, and ignores steps taken by the national government to help the Ainu in accordance with the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Such a statement could disseminate disinformation about the Ainu and their history and even foment prejudice against them.

It would not be far-fetched to say that the view expressed in the assemblyman’s statement — characterized by a failure to recognize the sufferings that a minority group like the Ainu has experienced — shares the same root as the problem of hate speech against Korean residents in Japan.

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