• Indigenous peoples in Japan

    Indigenous peoples in Japan

The Indigenous World 2024: Japan

The two Indigenous Peoples of Japan, the Ainu and the Ryūkyūans (or Okinawans), live on the northernmost and southernmost islands of the country’s archipelago. The Ainu territory stretches from Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands (now both Russian territories) to the northern part of present-day Japan, including the entire island of Hokkaido. Hokkaido was unilaterally incorporated into the Japanese State in 1869. Although most Ainu still live in Hokkaido, over the second half of the 20th century, tens of thousands migrated to Japan’s urban centers for work and to escape the more prevalent discrimination on Hokkaido.

Since June 2008, the Ainu have been officially recognized as an Indigenous people of Japan. The most recent government surveys put the Ainu population in Hokkaido at 13,118 (2017) and in the rest of Japan at 210 (2011), although experts estimate the actual population to be much higher.[i]

Ryūkyūans, or Okinawans, live in the Ryūkyū Islands, which make up Japan’s present-day Okinawa prefecture. They comprise several Indigenous language groups with distinct cultural traits. Japan annexed the Ryūkyū Islands into its territory and established Okinawa prefecture in 1879 but later relinquished the islands to the United States in exchange for independence after World War II. In 1972, the islands were reincorporated into the Japanese State. Some 1.45 million people live throughout Okinawa prefecture. The Japanese government does not recognize the Ryūkyūans as Indigenous Peoples.

Japan has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – although it does not recognize the unconditional right to self-determination. It has not ratified ILO Convention 169.


Ainu

Ainu “land” rights

Collective Ainu possession of land, resources and territories is a right that has been stripped from the Ainu people since the early Meiji Era (approximately 1880s) when the Japanese State established unilateral and arbitrary laws declaring all territory of the island of Hokkaido as belonging to the State. Individual Ainu ownership of land was recognized to a limited extent by the 1899 Hokkaido Former Aborigines Protection Act, which granted each Ainu family 15 hectares of land—a mere fraction of the territories they had originally possessed as kotan (autonomous and self-governing Ainu villages). Additionally, the Ainu experienced a second expropriation of land with the liberation of agricultural land executed by the General Headquarters of the American occupying forces after World War II. However, the question of lands that were originally taken from the Ainu in this way has never been raised, nor has the issue of the lands of Ainu who were forcibly displaced, such as the Sakhalin Ainu or the Niikappu Ainu.[ii] Ainu remain disenfranchised on their own lands and territories, with only limited harvesting rights provided for in current legislation, the Ainu Policy Promotion Act (hereinafter, APPA) and, even then, only upon the premise that the harvested resources will be used only for “cultural transmission purposes”.

However, 2023 was a year that called this situation into question in two major ways: firstly, calls for a revision of the content of the APPA and secondly, a large international Indigenous symposium held in Urahoro, Hokkaido, in conjunction with the Raporo Ainu Nation litigation against the Prefecture of Hokkaido and the Japanese State over traditional salmon fishing rights.

Raporo Ainu Nation litigation and the 2023 Raporo International Symposium

Although 1 February 2024 will see the end of the trial, with a verdict likely in favor of the State scheduled for 18 April, the Raporo Ainu Nation already plan to appeal to higher courts, and the litigation will continue to have wider ramifications in terms of questioning the unilateral annexation of Ainu lands and resources into Japan, as well as the applicability of Japanese laws to the Ainu people.

In opposition to the State stance that salmon harvesting without a commercial fishing license is illegal under the current Marine Resources Protection Act, the Raporo plaintiffs have argued in the final brief submitted to the presiding judge that Ainu salmon harvesting is based upon several hundred years of tradition and custom and is an inherent Indigenous right recognized internationally.[iii] They claim that to assert that Ainu and ethnic Japanese fishermen are equally prohibited under the law from fishing in rivers is nothing other than assimilation policy[iv] and invalid[v] because it contradicts international law.

In order to learn from the struggles of progressive foreign Indigenous Peoples and to spread awareness of Indigenous rights in Japan,[vi] from 26-28 May 2023, the Raporo Nation brought seven Indigenous representatives and one lawyer from Finland, Canada, Australia, the United States and Taiwan to the Hokkaido town of Urahoro to hold the international Indigenous symposium, The Right to Fish in Rivers as Indigenous Right.[vii] In addition to international media coverage,[viii] the Symposium resulted in the 2023 Raporo Declaration,[ix] and will be followed by similar international symposia on Indigenous harvesting rights held by Indigenous people in Australia (May 2024) and Taiwan (October 2024).

Revision of the APPA and scheduled 2024 review

As above, the APPA has been identified as lacking in basis for Ainu Indigenous rights. According to the Supplementary Resolutions,[x] it will be subject to review in Fiscal 2024, five years after taking effect in 2019. In order to capitalize on this opportunity to the fullest and to have their voice heard regarding the content of the law, Ainu individuals, in collaboration with civil society organizations, have been in the process of collecting petition signatures since September 2023,[xi] as well as approaching Japanese Members of Parliament to arrange in-house seminars to be held at the Tokyo House of Representatives in the spring of 2024.

The content of the petition[xii] to be delivered in conjunction with the workshop by the Realizing the Voices of the Indigenous Ainu! Executive Committee calls for a thorough review of the law in terms, inter alia, of “Indigenous attributes” as Indigenous Peoples as stipulated by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Ainu rights to land, fishing and hunting, Indigenous education, freedom from discrimination, rights to repatriation of ancestral remains, and the right to participation in the administration of the law.

Repeat offenses of hate speech

Pending the commotion caused by the discriminatory remarks of Member of Parliament Mio Sugita, which initially came to light in late November 2022,[xiii] protest gatherings were held by Ainu groups and other minorities in February[xiv] and March. Additionally, Ainu and Korean victims of Sugita’s hate speech applied for redress from the Japanese Ministry of Justice and, as a result, in September the Legal Affairs Bureaus of Sapporo and Osaka issued warnings to Sugita to “learn about the Ainu culture, and take caution with her remarks”.[xv]

Despite these official warnings, Sugita has become a repeat offender, subsequently making remarks suggesting that the apologies she originally made to the victims of her hate speech in December 2022 were not sincere and, furthermore, placing the blame for the subsequent uproar on the victims themselves.[xvi] These repeated offenses by Sugita have resulted in an official statement of condemnation from the Ainu Association of Hokkaido,[xvii] as well as in the organizing of further protest gatherings that took place January 2024.

Other developments

2023 was also significant in terms of:

  • Submission of a statement[xviii] by an Ainu activist in conjunction with a civil society organization to the Hokkaido Museum on the planned transfer of Ainu ancestral remains from the Museum to the Upopoy. This resulted in the museum publicly updating their homepage information regarding where the remains were originally obtained from;
  • The visit of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and public report[xix] on their findings, which called for the Japanese State to recognize Ainu collective rights to land and resources. The press conference[xx] gained nationwide attention for its focus on human rights abuses in Japan;
  • The repatriation from Australia to Hokkaido of the ancestral remains of a Sakhalin Ainu. This was the first time that Sakhalin Ainu had been involved in the process of receiving Ainu ancestral remains repatriated from a country other than Japan;[xxi]
  • A statement by Hokkaido Governor Suzuki to the effect that he planned to involve the Ainu in the cultural activities of the 2025 Osaka World Expo. This announcement has been criticized by Ainu activists who point out the resemblance to the actions of the Japanese State in 1903 when it exhibited Indigenous citizens of the Empire in the Fifth National Industrial Exhibition, Osaka 1903.[xxii]

 Ryūkyūans (Okinawans)

 Military expansion in the Ryūkyū Archipelago

The rising tensions between the US and its allies in East Asia, on the one hand, and China and North Korea, on the other, have led to further militarization of the already heavily-fortified Ryūkyūs.

In March 2023, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force established their new base on Ishigaki Island. Despite the civilians’ protests, missiles and launch pads were brought into Ishigaki.[xxiii] In May, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) to prepare to shoot down a North Korean spy satellite if it were to fall within Japan’s territory. As a result, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air missiles were deployed in Naha-city on Okinawa Island, as well as on Miyako Island, Ishigaki Island, and Yonaguni Island.[xxiv],[xxv]

In September, it was revealed that the Japanese government had been considering the extension and expansion of runways at the airports of Naha, Ishigaki, and Miyako as well as the expansion and improvement of port quays for the purpose of fortifying defense.[xxvi]

In November, the US Marine Corps deployed the Marine Coastal Regiment to Camp Hansen, which is located in the northern part of Okinawa Island, for the purpose of “deterrence of China” and in cooperation with the JSDF.[xxvii] In October, a joint Japan-US training exercise called “Resolute Dragon” was conducted throughout Okinawa, despite citizen opposition. Osprey aircraft flew over Ishigaki Island for the first time and military vehicles were seen driving on public roads.[xxviii],[xxix] Additionally, in November, the US military deployed the MQ-9 unmanned surveillance aircraft at Kadena Air Base, ignoring the protests and concerns of the prefectural government and Kadena Town Council.[xxx]

Corresponding to the intensified military expansion in the Ryūkyū archipelago, protest rallies and demonstrations were organized throughout Okinawa and the Ryūkyū archipelago.[xxxi],[xxxii],[xxxiii]

Meanwhile, in June 2023, the Japanese government designated 39 locations in Okinawa prefecture as target areas for regulation at the central government council meeting on the Land Regulation Law, which regulates the sale, purchase, and use of land in areas around military facilities and other important national facilities. There are concerns that this move will not only result in restrictions on economic activities but also on protests around military bases.[xxxiv],[xxxv]

Land grabbing

In November 2023, a Japanese businessman announced that he would be opening a theme park in northern Okinawa.[xxxvi] He stated that Ryūkyū was “the most exotic in Japan” and that “tourism is most profitable”, revealing his colonial mindset toward Indigenous lands. Some locals have voiced their doubts about the theme park project and his intentions. Although the mayor of Nakayama Ward in Nago City expects economic growth, such as an increase in employment, he said that some residents have requested that an information meeting be held. “The ongoing construction has already disrupted traffic, and I am concerned about its potential impact on residents’ lives.” [xxxvii]

The park is set to be established in an area around the UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, close to the former US military training site where US military waste materials have been found.[xxxviii] And while the theme park touts “Okinawa's World Natural Heritage Site”, it does not mention the issue of US military waste. One member of the Nago City Council, stated:

I got the impression that they don’t care about local traditions, culture, and lifestyles, and that they see climate and nature only as tools to generate profits. They conveniently utilize “the brand” of the World Natural Heritage for their profits. It is disconcerting that the problem of US military waste left in the Northern training area can be concealed.[xxxix]

Language suppression by Japanese Diet members

At the memorial ceremony for the Battle of Okinawa, held on 23 June 2023, the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Denny Tamaki, delivered a speech in a mixture of Uchināguchi (Okinawan language[xl]) and English. In response, Japanese Diet member, Masahisa Miyazaki, criticized Governor Tamaki on social media for using Uchināguchi at the ceremony.[xli] Governor Tamaki responded by saying that his speech had included mourning for the residents (Indigenous Okinawans) who were killed as “spies” by Japanese soldiers for speaking Uchināguchi during the Battle of Okinawa.[xlii]

Lawsuit for repatriation of Ryūkyūan remains

Ryūkyūan descendants have filed a lawsuit in this regard. In December, the Osaka High Court dismissed the lawsuit against Kyoto University filed by descendants of Ryūkyūans whose ancestors’ remains, stolen by Japanese anthropologists in the early 20th century, are held by the university.[xliii] However, the court stated, in its ruling, that “the Ryūkyūan people are Indigenous to Okinawa” and showed a certain level of consideration by mentioning that “the remains should be returned to their home” in the appendices. This is the first case in which a court has recognized that the Ryūkyūans are Indigenous.[xliv]

In response to this ruling, the plaintiffs announced that they would not appeal to the Supreme Court, saying that there was a chance that “the political intervention” could erase the fact that the court had recognized the Ryūkyūans as Indigenous people. They intend to continue to negotiate with Kyoto University for the repatriation of the ancestral remains.[xlv]

Participation at the UN

In September 2023, Okinawa Prefecture Governor Tamaki participated in the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council meeting where he raised the issue of the US military presence and shared his concern that the new base construction at Henoko will threaten Okinawa’s peace.[xlvi]

Furthermore, the civic organizations named the Ginowan Churamizu (Beautiful Water) Association and the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans (ACSILs) participated in the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) meeting in July to draw the international community’s attention to the issues of water contamination due to the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) caused by the US military as well as the need to protect the Ryūkyūan languages.[xlvii]

Hate issue

In November, Ryūkyū Shimpo (local newspaper) hosted a forum on hatred for Okinawa, ranging from hate speech to hate motivated crime. Ushi Chien and Ryoko Nakamura served as panel speakers at the forum. Chinen and Nakamura noted that the ordinance regulating hatred (e.g., hate speech) does not acknowledge Ryūkyūans as an Indigenous ethnic group, while stressing the importance of continuously resisting the discrimination suffered by Okinawans at the hands of the Japanese.[xlviii],[xlix],[l] Furthermore, in December, three civic organizations petitioned the prefectural government to define “ethnicity” in the human rights ordinance.[li]

Movements to restore the rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Ryūkyū Islands

In November, the civic group, Mabuigumi Association, organized a demonstration in front of the prefectural government office in response to some assembly members' refusal to recognize the Ryūkyūans as Indigenous.[lii] In addition, they submitted a written request urging prefectural assembly members to adopt the UN recommendations to ensure the Indigenous rights of Ryūkyūans.[liii] There was no particular reaction from the prefectural council members. However, two civilians joined the demonstration after reading the article about it in the local newspapers.

 

 

Jeff Gayman is Associate Professor in the Research Faculty of Media and Communication and Graduate School of Education, Multicultural Education at Hokkaido University where his research focuses on issues of empowerment of the Ainu in educational arenas. He has been engaged in support of Ainu rights advocacy for over 15 years.

 

Dr. Kanako Uzawa is an Ainu scholar, artist, and rights advocate. She is the founder of AinuToday, a global online platform that delivers living Ainu culture and people. She is an Assistant Professor for the Global Station for Indigenous Studies and Cultural Diversity (GSI) at Hokkaido University in Japan. Her most recent work engages with Ainu art exhibitions as a guest curator in collaboration with the University of Michigan Museum of Art in the United States. She is also affiliated as an associated researcher at the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo in Norway, and is an editorial board member of AlterNative: an International Journal of Indigenous Peoples in New Zealand, Aotearoa.

 

Ryoko Nakamura is a Ryūkyūan Indigenous person. She is the co-representative of “Nirai Kanai nu Kai”, a citizens' organization that works for the repatriation of Ryūkyūan human remains.

 

Risako Sakai (she/her/hers) collaborated in drafting the section on Ryūkyūans. She is an Indigenous woman from Okinawa and is currently a PhD candidate in Applied Anthropology at Oregon State University. Her dissertation focuses on marine conservation and Indigenous resurgence, applying decolonizing and Indigenous methodologies.

 

This article is part of the 38th edition of The Indigenous World, a yearly overview produced by IWGIA that serves to document and report on the developments Indigenous Peoples have experienced. The photo above is of an Indigenous man harvesting quinoa in Sunimarka, Peru. This photo was taken by Pablo Lasansky, and is the cover of The Indigenous World 2024 where this article is featured. Find The Indigenous World 2024 in full here

 

Notes and references

[i] Population figures for Hokkaido taken from the 2017 Survey of Ainu Livelihoods conducted by the Hokkaido prefectural government in cooperation with the Ainu Association. Hokkaido Government, Environment and Lifestyle Section. “Hokkaido Ainu Survey on Livelihood Report.” 2017,

https://www.pref.hokkaido.lg.jp/ks/ass/new_jittai.html

Population figures for the rest of Japan taken from the 2011 Survey of Non-Hokkaido Ainu Livelihoods conducted by the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion. “Non-Hokkaido Ainu Survey on Livelihood Report.” 2011, https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/ainusuishin/dai3/haifu_siryou.pdf; many with Ainu ancestry do not publicly identify as Ainu due to discrimination and stigma in Japanese society. Ainu observers estimate the actual population of those with Ainu ancestry to be between 100,000 and 300,000, with 5,000 in the greater Kanto region alone.

[ii] Refers to Ainu who were forcibly displaced, first in 1872, then again in 1916, due to the establishment of the Imperial Ranch upon their lands in what is currently the town of Niikappu. See Niikappu to Ainu no Rekishi (Niikappu and the History of the Ainu) Retrieved from k670-3.pdf (niikappu.jp).

[iii] NHK, 1 February 2024. “Kawa de Sakegyo Mitomeareru” Uttae Ainusenjyuken soshou Hanketsu shi-gatsu ni (“Allow Salmon Fishing in Rivers” Appeal Ainu Indigenous Rights Litigation Verdict Set for April). https://www3.nhk.or.jp/sapporo-news/20240201/7000064580.html

[iv] Hokkaido Television Broadcasting, 1 February 2024. “Koko de Ainu ga Funki sinai to” Senjyuken ni Motoduita Sake no Hokakuken Motometa Saiban Sannen-han ni Wataru Shinri ga Shuryo (“If the Ainu Don’t Take Action Now…” Case Calling for Salmon Harvesting Rights Founded in Indigenous Rights Three-and-a-Half Year Hearing Ends). https://www.htb.co.jp/news/archives_24605.html

[v] Hokkaido Shimbun Press, 1 February 2024. Sakegyo Soshou Kessin Hanketsu ha Shi-gatsu Jyuhachinichi Sapporo Chisai (Salmon Fishing Litigation Concludes. Verdict Set for April 18 Sapporo Court). https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/article/970474/

[vi] Sashima Masaaki. 30 May 2023. Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Ainu Nation Lawsuit and International Indigenous Maritime Rights. In Raporo Ainu Nation, Eds. (2024), Tsunagarou, Tatakau Sekai no Senjyumin: Kokusai Sinpojium 2023 Senjyumin to site no Kawa de Sake o Toru Kenri Houkokushu. Sharing Story: Indigenous Struggles in the World: Report of the Internation Symposium 2023 “The Right to Fish in Rivers as Indigenous Right.” Sapporo: Karinsha Publishers, p.233.

[vii] Raporo Ainu Nation, Eds. (2024). Tsunagarou, Tatakau Sekai no Senjyumin: Kokusai Sinpojium 2023 Senjyumin to site no Kawa de Sake o Toru Kenri Houkokushu. Sharing Story: Indigenous Struggles in the World: Report of the Internation Symposium 2023 “The Right to Fish in Rivers as Indigenous Right.” Sapporo: Karinsha Publishers.

[viii] Rich, Motoko and Hikari Hida, The New York Times, 2 July 2023. Japan’s Native Ainu Fight for a Last Vestige of Their Identity: Looking to Regain Right to Fish Salmon.

[ix] Raporo Ainu Nation, The right to catch salmon in rivers as an indigenous right. http://raporo-ainu-nation.com/?page_id=265&fbclid=IwAR2KW0EWhElGrgaGZ83bbF5QDG2xQYqzjw9CyUdZjkVdsJL8hWg_SG3Rht8

[x] Ainu no Hitobito no Hokori ga Sonchou Sareru Syakai o Jitsugen Suru Tame no Shisaku no Suishin ni Kansuru Houritsuan (Supplementary Resolutions to The Act Promoting Measures to Achieve a Society in which the Pride of Ainu People is Respected). https://www.sangiin.go.jp/japanese/gianjoho/ketsugi/198/f072_041801.pdf

[xi] Senjyuminzoku Ainu no Koe Jitsugen! Jikkouiinkai (Realizing the Voices of the Indigenous Ainu! Executive Committee) 19 September 2023. Ainu Seisaku no Minaosi o Motomeru Seigan Chomei (Signature Petition Calling for a Review of Ainu Policy). https://ainu.amebaownd.com/posts/49217626

[xii] Ibid

[xiii] IWGIA. 2023. The Indigenous World 2023: Japan. https://www.iwgia.org/en/japan/5121-iw-2023-japan.html

[xiv] Asaue, Fumika and Buntaro Kaneko, Hokkaido Shimbun Press, 26 February, 2023. Sugita Mio Shi no Bujyokuteki Hatsugen Ainu Minzoku ga Sapporo de Kougi Shukai (Insulting Remarks by Ms Mio Sugita Ainu Hold Protest Gathering in Sapporo) https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/article/807285

[xv] Mainichi Shimbun Press, 20 September 2023. Sugita Mio Shi no Jinken Shimpan o Nintei Jinken Kyusai Seido to ha? (Recognition of Human Rights Violations by Ms Mio Sugita. What is a Human Rights Redress System?). https://mainichi.jp/articles/20230920/k00/00m/040/256000c

[xvi] Hokkaido Shimbun Press, 30 November 2023. Shasetsu: Sugita Shi no Hatsugen Houchi ga Sabetsu o Jyochou Suru (Editorial: Remarks by Ms Sugita. Leaving Discrimination Untreated will only Worsen It) Retrieved from https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/article/946382/

[xvii] Ainu Association of Hokkaido, 15 December 2023. Sakkon no Ainu Minzoku ni Taisuru Jyohou Hassin, SNS Tou ni Tuite (On Recent Dissemination of Comments, Posts on SNS, and the Like Regarding the Ainu). https://www.ainu-assn.or.jp/news/details/sns.html

[xviii] Citizens‘ Alliance for the Examination of Ainu Policy, 4 October, 2023. Hokan Suru Ainu Minzoku no Ikotsu Henkan ni okeru Hokkaido Hakubutsukan no Houshin no Saikou o Motomemasu (Seimei) (Demanding a Reconsideration of the Policy of the Hokkaido Museum in Regard to the Repatriation of Ainu Remains it Houses Statement). Retrieved from https://ainupolicy.jimdofree.com/%E5%B8%82%E6%B0%91%E4%BC%9A%E8%AD%B0%E3%81%AE%E6%8F%90%E6%A1%88-%E5%A3%B0%E6%98%8E/%E4%BF%9D%E7%AE%A1%E3%81%99%E3%82%8B%E3%82%A2%E3%82%A4%E3%83%8C%E6%B0%91%E6%97%8F%E3%81%AE%E9%81%BA%E9%AA%A8%E8%BF%94%E9%82%84%E3%81%AB%E3%81%8A%E3%81%91%E3%82%8B%E5%8C%97%E6%B5%B7%E9%81%93%E5%8D%9A%E7%89%A9%E9%A4%A8%E3%81%AE%E6%96%B9%E9%87%9D%E3%81%AB%E5%86%8D%E8%80%83%E3%82%92%E6%B1%82%E3%82%81%E3%81%BE%E3%81%99-%E5%A3%B0%E6%98%8E/

[xix] UN Working Group on Human Rights and Business, 4 August 2023. Misshon Shuryo Sutetomento. Statement Delivered Upon Completion of Mission. https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/issues/development/wg/statement/20230804-eom-japan-wg-development-japanese.pdf

[xx] Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, n.d. Kokuren “Bijinesu to Jinken Wakingu Gurupu” Kaiken (Press Conference of the UN “Working Group on Human Rights and Business”, 4 August 2023), YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlIg5GpCKDk

[xxi] Tokyo Shimbun Press, 15 May, 2023. Mochisarareta Ainu no Ikotsu ga Shison ni HenkanSarenai “Ikkoku mo Hayaku Tsuchi ni” o Habamu Haikei to wa (Stolen Ainu Remains not Being Repatriated to Descendants. The Background Holding Back “A Most Rapid Return to the Soil”). https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/249828

[xxii] Tokyo Shimbun Press, 18 December 2023. Banpaku ga Kakaeru Kurorekishi “Ningen Doubutsuen”…120 Nenmae no Osaka de Okita “Jiken” to 2025 Nen Osaka Banpaku no Soujikei to wa (The Dark History Borne by the World Expo “Human Zoo” The Resemblance of the “Incident” of 120 Years Ago in Osaka and the 2025 Osaka Expo). https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/296493

[xxiii] Okinawa TV. (2023, March 31). Missiles Deployed on Ishigaki "The Most Reassuring Force Ever" and "The Race of Military Expansion Continues": Residents Divided in Their Evaluation [Okinawa, Japan]FNN Prime Online. FNN Prime Online. https://www.fnn.jp/articles/-/505161

[xxiv] Tokyo Newspaper Online. (2023, May 29). Defense Minister Hamada Orders Destruction of North Korean “Satellite” in Response to Launch Advisories from June 31 to June 11: Tokyo Shimbun TOKYO Web. Tokyo Newspaper Web. https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/253204

[xxv] Ryūkyū Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, News Production Bureau. (2023, May 17). Okinawa and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (9) / Deployment of Missiles in Yonaguni / Japan Self-Defense Forces Influencing the Future of the Islands. QAB NEWS Headline. https://www.qab.co.jp/news/20230517174774.html

[xxvi] Ryūkyū Shimpo Morning Edition. (2023, September 30). Government Considering Runway Extension at New Ishigaki and Miyako Airports on Condition of Accepting Self-Defense Forces Training, Expanding Port Quay and Adding Taxiway at Naha Airport. Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/newspaper/entry-2321089.html

[xxvii] Ryūkyū Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, News Production Bureau. (2023, November 15). New Marine Corps Unit Established / “Coastal Regiment” / Responds to Remote Island Operations / Emphasizes Cooperation with Self-Defense Forces. QAB NEWS Headline. https://www.qab.co.jp/news/20231115192763.html

[xxviii] Teruya, D. (19 October 2023). Don’t let the Osprey fly! Yaeyama residents voice opposition in front of the garrison in Ishigaki, Okinawa. Ryūkyū Shimpo morning edition. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/national/entry-2390591.html

[xxix] Ryūkyū Shimpo. (21 October 2023). Citizens are removed, general vehicles are stopped, and more than a dozen large vehicles are driven on public roads. Japan-U.S. joint training conducted in Uruma, Okinawa. Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/national/entry-2395454.html

[xxx] Ryūkyū Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, News Production Bureau. (8 November 2023). Deployment of the U.S. MQ-9 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft completed at Kadena Air Base. QAB NEWS Headline. https://www.qab.co.jp/news/20231108191993.html

[xxxi] Ryūkyū Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, News Production Bureau. (26 February 2023). Dialogue and diplomacy, not militarization, the rally organized in Naha. QAB NEWS Headline. https://www.qab.co.jp/news/20230226163932.html

[xxxii] Ryūkyū Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, News Production Bureau. (15 May 2023). 51 years after Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, “May 15 Peace March.” QAB NEWS Headline. https://www.qab.co.jp/news/20230515174460.html

[xxxiii] Okinawa Times + Plus. (23 November 2023). Governor Denny Tamaki: “Let’s raise our voices for peace without flinching” “Prefectural Rally” against construction of new base and deployment of JSDF and military expansion. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/1261659

[xxxiv] Ryūkyū Shimpo. (1 July 2023). 39 sites in the Okinawa prefecture to be designated under the Land Regulation Law, to be enforced in mid-August - the penalty “Functional Impeding Acts” remain vague. Ryūkyū Simpo Digital. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/entry-1738945.html

[xxxv] Director for Policy Coordination, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan (in charge of Important Lands). (n.d.). Designation of Watch Areas and Special Watch Areas. the Japanese Cabinet Office. https://www.cao.go.jp/tochi-chosa/shingikai/doc/shiryou5-1.pdf

[xxxvi] Okinawa TV, O. (30 November 2023). KATANA, the CEO Takeshi Morioka, chose Okinawa as the winning location for the opening of the “JUNGLIA” theme park. Is the future beyond that inevitable? https://www.otv.co.jp/okitive/article/52831/

[xxxvii] Okinawa Times + Plus. (29 November 2023). While there is concern in Nago City and Nakijin Village, Okinawa, where the “Junglia” project is located, “construction work has already caused traffic jams” and there are hopes for economic benefits, there is also concern about the impact of the project on the local economy. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/1264685

[xxxviii] Ryūkyū Simpo. 50,000 empty packages in a mountain forest adjacent to a World Heritage Site. Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. 10 August 2023. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/entry-1764117.html

[xxxix] Okinawa Times + Plus. (29 November 2023). While there is concern in Nago City and Nakijin Village, Okinawa, where the “Junglia” project is located, “construction work has already caused traffic jams” and there are hopes for economic benefits, there is also concern about the impact of the project on the local economy. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/1264685

[xl] It should be noted that Okinawan is one of the Ryūkyūan languages (e.g., Hammine 2021; Ishihara 2016; Shimoji 2018).

[xli] Miyazaki’s tweet https://twitter.com/Miyazaki_kirin/status/1672162234833985539

[xlii] Ryūkyū Simpo (Okita, Yūgo). “Governor Tamaki: ‘There is also a memorial to those who were seen as spies by speaking Uchinaaguchi’ Use of English and Uchinaaguchi in the Peace Declaration, in response to a social media post by the member of the House of Representatives Miyazaki.” Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital, 27 June 2023. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/entry-1735862.html

[xliii] For more on the case see Yasukatsu Matsushima (2023) Going Home: The struggle for the Return of Ryūkyūan Ancestral Remains. https://debatesindigenas.org/en/2023/04/01/going-home-the-struggle-for-the-return-of-Ryūkyūan-ancestral-remains/

[xliv] Ryūkyū Simpo (2023) Osaka High Court Dismisses Appeal Yet Osaka High Court Rules “Ryūkyūans are Indigenous” and Ancestral Remains should Return Home, Ryūkyū Simpo Digital. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/entry-2301373.html

[xlv] Ryūkyū Simpo (2023) Osaka High Cour Finalized Lawsuit for Repatriation of Ryūkyūan Remains, Plaintiffs Value Statements ‘Remains Should be Returned Home,’ ‘Ryūkyūan as an Indigeneous group,’ etc., Ryūkyū Simpo Digital. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/entry-2359397.html

[xlvi] Okinawa Times (2023) Governor Denny Tamaki Addresses ‘New US Military Base Construction As Threat to Democracy’ at the UN Human Rights Council Meeting, Okinawa Times Plus +. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/1224763#google_vignette

[xlvii] The Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans (ACSILs), (2023) Statements etc. for the UN meeting. https://www.acsils.org/statements

[xlviii] Ryūkyū Shimpo (2023). “Okinawa Combating Hatred No.3 -- "The Majority Determine Who to Help" by Ryoko Nakamura, co-chair of Nirai Kanai Nukai.” Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. 5 November 2023. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/national/entry-2445963.html

[xlix] Ryūkyū Shimpo (2023). “Panel report by Ushi Chinen (Munukachā [Writer in Okinawan]) [The Okinawa Combating Hatred Forum: Detailed Report No. 3].” Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. 24 November 2023. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/national/entry-2507422.html

[l] Ryūkyū Shimpo (2023). “Ryoko Nakamura (Co-Chair, Nirai Kanainu Kai, a civic organization) Panel Report [ [The Okinawa Combating Hatred Forum: Detailed Report No. 4].” Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. 24 November 2023. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/national/entry-2507472.html

[li] Ryūkyū Shimpo (Takaya Kinra). 2023. “Three civic organizations Urged the Okinawa Prefectural government to Include "Ryūkyūans as an Ethnic Group" in Hate Regulations.” Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. 1 December 2023. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/living/entry-2534791.html

[lii] Ryūkyū Shimpo (Masato Tomari). 2023. “Civic Group Urges Prefectural Assembly to Recognize Okinawans as Indigenous – Protest until November 28th in Response to Prefectural Assembly Members' Information Dissemination, etc..” Ryūkyū Shimpo Digital. 15 November 2023. https://Ryūkyūshimpo.jp/news/national/entry-2477360.html

[liii] Okinawa Times. 2023. “Mabuigumi nu Kai Submitted a Written Request” Okinawa Times + Plus. 16 December 2023. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/1264650

Tags: Land rights, Human rights, Cultural Integrity , International Processes

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