(As delivered)Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Since the adoption of the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People in 2007, Japan has made continuous efforts to address indigenous issues including preserving their cultures and identities.
In June 2008, our National Diet adopted resolutions to recognize the Ainu population as Indigenous Peoples of Japan, and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Mr. Nobutaka Machimura released a statement acknowledging the Ainu people as Indigenous people of Japan and established the Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy.
Thereafter the Government of Japan and representatives of the Ainu have discussed comprehensive and effective measures to address various issues, including education, the revitalization of their culture and the economic development.
One of the pillars of Japan’s policies for the Ainu people is promotion and awareness-raising of Ainu culture. The Government of Japan has assisted projects such as an educational program on the Ainu language.
In addition to those policies, taking into consideration domestic and international call for adequate recognition of indigenous people, the Government submitted a draft bill in February this year, which aims to implement a more comprehensive package of measures to promote local Ainu communities, industries and internal and international exchanges through tourism at the National Diet.
The bill recognizes the Ainu as an indigenous people for the first time in national legislation and states its objective as “realizing a society that will respect the pride of the Ainu as an ethnic group.”
The bill also establishes subsidiaries to promote Ainu culture and eases regulations so that the Ainu people can log in state-owned forests and catch salmon in rivers to protect and promote their traditional culture.
Furthermore, the Government is now developing the “Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony”, consisting of a national Ainu museum and park as a national center for the revitalization of the Ainu culture in Hokkaido. The Symbolic Space, called “UPOPOI” will be open in 2020 and will promote nationwide understanding of the history and culture of the Ainu people.
The bill was approved by the both Houses of the National Diet last Friday, the 19th of April.
We will continue to work closely with the Ainu people in Japan to achieve a society where the diversity of all people is respected.