Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Joe Lieberman... | Burn After Viewing »

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Congratulations, Ainu!

posted by on June 10 at 16:43 PM

You are now (as of last Friday) officially considered an indigenous people of Japan! Rejoice—maybe it’ll make those memories of decades of racism fade away a little bit.


It’s always kind of comforting to see that persecution of indigenous peoples is not an exclusively European trait…

After initial contact with the immigrants, large settlements of the Japanese newcomers gradually spread into Ainu territory. As the Japanese moved north and took control over Ainu lands, the Ainu often gave up without resistance, with some occasional wars in 1457, 1669, and 1789, where the Ainu were defeated. Notable Ainu revolts include Shakushain’s Revolt and the Menashi-Kunashir Battle. Japanese policies became increasingly aimed at assimilating the Ainu in the Meiji period starting in 1868, outlawing their language, forcing them to use Japanese names, redistributing their land to Japanese farmers and restricting them to farming on government-provided plots and as labor in the Japanese fishing industry.

Also interesting:

Ainu men generally have dense hair development.

RSS icon Comments


So if their hair is dense, does that mean their hair could work for our President?

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 10, 2008 5:04 PM

Decades of racism? Try more like 500 years. But hey, at least they weren't completely wiped out by genocide like the Yayoi culture in Japan. Three cheers!

Posted by robot2501 | June 10, 2008 5:06 PM

Correction: The Yayoi culture committed genocide and wiped out the native Jomon culture.


I'm an ass.

Posted by robot2501 | June 10, 2008 5:10 PM


Try one or two millennia.

Posted by Simac | June 10, 2008 5:56 PM

Let's just say I was referring to institutional racism, which started in the early 20th century.

Posted by Ari Spool | June 10, 2008 6:07 PM

It's a bit more complex than just plain racism. A good portion of the Japanese national identity came from the conquest of Ainu lands, in a phenomenon similar to Manifest Destiny in the US. The full title for "shogun," sei-i-tai-shōgun, means "General who subdues the barbarians in the East," meaning the Ainu.

The Japanese, rather than admit that the Ainu were the indigenous people of Japan, have rejected the out of Africa theory of human evolution in favor of the multiregional theory, and have done anthropology worthy only of 19th Century racists, to prove that the human remains of ancient Japan, which perfectly match the modern Ainu, are actually pre-historic Japanese and have tried to carefully chart their evolution into modern Japanese.

They really are thought of the way Americans thought of Native Americans, only without the stereotype of nobility.

Posted by Gitai | June 10, 2008 6:14 PM

I recall reading somewhere that the was actually another indigenous people that live in Hokkaido and when the Ainu were pushed North, they actually wiped out these people. For some reason I recall reading that there was something like 50 of these people left. Does anyone have any clue what I am talking about?

Posted by nathaniel | June 10, 2008 7:14 PM

If you want to know who they are
they are Gentlemen of Japan.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | June 10, 2008 10:18 PM

This is a great story, and one can only hope that Japan does more then simply recognize them on paper. However, that is to be seen...

Posted by Indigenous peoples researcher | June 11, 2008 6:39 AM

Oh, sure, I knew that. I once read a book about a guy who studied the Ainu in the 20s, the book was called "With The Hairy Men" or something like that.

Posted by --MC | June 11, 2008 7:13 AM

Not, not just America at all. Look at South America. The ruling class are all colonists from Spain. South Africa? Heck most of European countries are ruled by descendants of conquerors. Look at England. Indigenous people fair poorly to roaming militarily inclined cultures looking for a new home. It is a sad truth of our history.

Posted by StrangerDanger | June 11, 2008 9:18 AM

"It’s always kind of comforting to see that persecution of indigenous peoples is not an exclusively European trait…"
Dude, that's sick. Imagine all the suffering that would never have occurred if we really were the only ones that did this. A rapist should not celebrate the sight of another rape, just because it exonerates him a little. At least not publicly.

Posted by ew | June 11, 2008 11:11 AM

We have crushed you! Now that you're almost gone, oh, how we love you! Time to start naming sports teams after you...

I used to have a hairy ainu, but I got it waxed.

Posted by CP | June 11, 2008 4:56 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.