Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sky flying at Okurayama, Sapporo





"It was the climax of this report to Hokkaido when facing me, on the outskirts of Sapporo, the mont Okura Ski Jump stadium take off ramp appeared right in front, huge, threatening in such a freezing wind..."


I needed at least a full course of "Genghis Khan" Mongolian BBQ to get ready to jump and fly. My target is simple: reaching the 100 meters landing!

Being in Japan I always have my eyes on any new technological achievement, I am not sure it's appropriate to encourage addicted mass consumption as Japanese do and I certainly do not need to change my camera every 6 months. So as we do in France, I select the best. And the other day in Sapporo Hokkaido northern Japan, while trying to cope with the sporty designed challenging program my Sapporo's city hosts panned for me, ski jump before the Vancouver Olympics, I thought I had to be equipped with the best camera. I took the G1 Exilim of Casio. Mission: try to see what the French ski jumper Emmanuel Chedal felt prior to jump on to the winners podium at Lillehammer last year.

The Mount Okura ski jump is placed on the eastern slope of the Mt. Okura. The stadium has hosted a number of winter sports events including 1972 Winter Olympics and FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2007. The area of stadium consists of the Winter Sports Museum, the Okurayama Crystal House, and the Mt. Okura Observation Platform, as well as the ski jump.

The stadium has area of 8.2 ha, which houses 50,000 people at a maximum during a competition, and the ski jump is categorized as the large hill jump. The total height of the jump hill from the top starting point to the bottom of the slope is 133 meters, also the distance to the K-spot (critical point) is 120 meters. The current record held on the ski jump (Bakken Record) is 145.0 meters, which was achieved by a ski jumper Yūsuke Kaneko on March 25, 2005.

I could not believe it, how come such a small camera can deliver all I needed and in any circumstances, weather, element (water, nice or super cold temperature (no fog on the lens!? how did they do this?) Basically I am a Canon and Sony fan but I have to add the new bull here: the G1 Exilim of Casio digital camera. Amazing and chic look for a camera functions -pictures and vdo- which gave me the impression to run a Ferrari. Water-proof, dust-proof, and shock resistant. It's an amazing high-resolution 12.1 -effective- megapixel images. Great shots and fun while I engaged in very impressive and top class winter sports, my first time ever ski jump... Yes, you did not read it wrong, I said: I tried ski jump!

VDO 1
I approach the ski jump, smell the air of the moment, check the snow quality.

video

VDO 2

I now get ready. Jumping for fear or for fun at the end?

video



Description

While Casio has been in the consumer electronics business since the company was founded in 1957, their first Exilim digital camera reached market fairly recently in 2002. Expanding upon their "card", "zoom" and "high speed" camera product lines, the company has recently introduced the "G" or "endurance" line with the EX-G1 compact digital. The G1, billed as the world's slimmest shock-resistant digital camera, builds upon Casio's earlier forays into durable products with watches and mobile phones. One only problem, the sound and the lens is not yet as good as on the Canon IXY I use in my work. Super smart and slim, I held it in my down jacket pocket all the time with my mobiles in the other pocket.





My thanks to Sapporo City and Cosmo agency Ms. Y. Yamamoto.



(Sources: Digital Camera, Mainichi Shimbun, Sapporo City Hall, Casio, Reporter's notes)


Friday, February 12, 2010

METI minister Naoshima fancies non-polluting vehicles ♪♬♯♫♪

"À bicyclette"... like in the song interpreted by Yves Montand, METI new look after Toyota's recall crisis is to go green and push yourself on the pedal... It works.

VDO

video

This was filmed with a camera-phone.


The minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima 64 years old has decided to shift from automobiles to bicycle following the Toyota's "Débâcle" ? He demonstrated his great ability at his ministry early year usual celebration held in a posh hotel in Tokyo. A way to change his mood following the industrial alarms which stroke Japan: JAL, Toyota, Honda.

I recently emceed an event where he was our Guest Speaker at FCCJ, so naturally, when we chatted together during the party, I asked him what he thought about the situation and if Japan would be looked with some concerns of a lower quality problem, he answered that he expected the media "to tell him more about the reality"... of Japan Inc industrial pattern, inclusive of communication (disability?).

But Masayuki Naoshima was quick to blame the global economic system after the Toyota recall: "I think it's a serious issue because of the big scale. (We're witnessing) one of the risks of the global system… Ultimately I'd like them to cope with the situation resolutely, especially in regaining the confidence of the consumers." Many analysts blame Toyota's pursuit of cheaper suppliers.

Masayuki Naoshima is a 3 term member of the House of Councillors (proportional representation) he was born after the war and graduated from Kobe University. On the green path of boosting recycled energies?

Politicians...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Espionnage des ordinateurs: "La loi Loppsi 2 nous prépare à l'enfer!"




Loppsi 2 : approche sécuritaire globale ou paranoïa intégrale ?


J'ai écrit il y a quelques temps pour Zdnet.fr sur la version japonaise du système de surveillance américain Carnivore. Je travaillais sur les données fournies par le professeur Ogura de l'université de Toyama, alors conseiller de madame Mizuho Fukushima, actuelle ministre du gouvernement Hatoyama sur les questions de consommation et de natalité. Zdnet: Kari-no-mail: http://tinyurl.com/yzbz4p3

Les projets de contrôle de nos ordinateurs et d'Internet, américains et européens, ont également le vent en poupe. Illustration en France avec ce débat parlementaire sur Loppsi 2.

"Le projet de loi Loppsi 2 est en ce moment débattu à l'Assemblée nationale. La loi d'orientation et de programmation pour la performance de la sécurité intérieure doit moderniser les procédures et les moyens utilisés par les forces de l'ordre, en prenant en compte les objectifs prioritaires définis pour les années 2009-2013: la lutte contre les menaces terroristes et toute forme de radicalisation, la criminalité organisée, la délinquance routière, les violences familiales ainsi que les crises de santé publiques. Après Hadopi 1 et 2, voici donc Loppsi 2, qui fait déjà controverse, car certains voient en elle une dérive sécuritaire". Marianne 2.fr http://tinyurl.com/y8cqths cite une interviewe de Sandrine Bélier, eurodéputée. Selon elle, l’enjeu est de parvenir à dépasser le cadre du Web car ce sont nos libertés publiques qui sont menacées:


Sandrine Bélier, eurodéputée


Q: "Le gouvernement entend réguler Internet, pensez-vous que la neutralité du Net soit menacée?

SB: Oui, j’ai le sentiment qu’il y a une vraie menace. Filtrage et blocage du Net sont aujourd’hui des expressions courantes dans l’arsenal législatif présenté par un gouvernement particulièrement décomplexé dans son rapport aux libertés publiques. Avec Loppsi, après Hadopi, on franchit une nouvelle étape, en exigeant des fournisseur d’accès à Internet (FAI) qu’ils exercent eux-mêmes des pouvoirs de contrôle et de police (en principe réservés aux autorités judiciaires et juridictionnelles)!

L’article 4 du projet de la Loppsi dispose que "(…) le présent projet d’article met à la charge des fournisseurs d’accès à Internet l’obligation d’empêcher l’accès des utilisateurs aux contenus illicites. La liste des sites dont il convient d’interdire l’accès leur sera communiqué sous la forme d’un arrêté du ministre de l’intérieur."


Commentaires

Le Monde :
"Ce sont deux philosophies et deux stratégies qui se sont affrontées, mardi, lors de l'ouverture des débats sur la loi de programmation et de performance pour la sécurité intérieure (Loppsi). D'un côté, les représentants de la majorité ont martelé la nécessité de moderniser les moyens dont disposent les forces de l'ordre, et mis en avant la baisse des chiffres de la délinquance depuis 2002. De l'autre, des députés de l'opposition ont souligné un bilan en trompe-l'œil, avec une hausse des violences contre les personnes, et dénonçant un "mirage technologique" qui ne saurait remplacer les moyens humains." http://tinyurl.com/ya3hnle

Le Journal du Dimanche: "A peine mis sur la table, le projet de loi Loppsi 2 – visant à renforcer la sécurité intérieure en luttant contre les nouvelles formes de délinquance – est très largement décrié. L'opposition dénonce "une loi de circonstance électorale" à quelques semaines des régionales. Syndicats et associations parlent quant à eux de "projet liberticide". http://tinyurl.com/ycxyvln

Rue 89: "C'est une mesure radicale, perdue dans le fourre-tout de la Loppsi : la loi sur la sécurité autorise la surveillance des ordinateurs. La police pourra s'introduire discrètement chez les suspects pour installer des mouchards. Pour le gouvernement, ce n'est qu'une modernisation des écoutes téléphoniques.
« Mouchards », « logiciels espions »… le gouvernement évite prudemment les mots qui font peur. Le texte de la Loppsi évoque pudiquement la « captation des données informatiques » : "Un dispositif technique ayant pour objet, sans le consentement des intéressés, d'accéder, en tous lieux, à des données informatiques, de les enregistrer, les conserver et les transmettre, telles qu'elles s'affichent sur un écran pour l'utilisateur d'un système de traitement automatisé de données ou telles qu'il les y introduit par saisie de caractères."

Dossier

"Le projet de loi Loppsi 2 a été gonflé en commission des lois. Parmi les mesures qui y ont été greffées, certaines semblent répondre à l’actualité, comme la possibilité pour le préfet d’instaurer un couvre-feu pour les mineurs de treize ans entre 23 heures et 6 heures, ou le renforcement du dispositif de contrat de responsabilité parental. Ou encore l’aggravation des peines encourues pour les vols commis à l’encontre de personnes vulnérables (après l’assassinat d’un couple de retraités largement utilisé par Brice Hortefeux), et enfin la création d’un délit de distribution d’argent à des fins publicitaires sur la voie publique (l’affaire Rentabiliweb). On peut également noter l'instauration d’un délit de vente à la sauvette.


La lutte contre la cybercriminalité

L’usurpation d’identité sur Internet sera désormais un délit sanctionné par un an d’emprisonnement et 15.000 euros d’amende, même dans le cas où il n’y a pas de préjudice financier. Dans le cadre de la lutte contre la pornographie enfantine, les fournisseurs d’accès Internet auront l’obligation d’interdire l’accès aux sites fournissant des contenus illicites. La liste des sites interdits sera transmise par le ministère de l’Intérieur. PS, militants des droits de l'homme, associations d'internautes, tous redoutent l'arrivée d'un filtrage des sites Internet.

La multiplication des fichiers

Le cadre légal des fichiers d’antécédents et d’analyse sérielle vont être modifiés, ce qui signifie qu’ils vont grossir. Des personnes sans antécédents pourront être conservées sur ces fichiers après décision du procureur, qui est sous l'autorité du gouvernement. D'autre part, des personnes ayant bénéficié de non-lieu et qui n'ont donc pas d'antécédents, pourront également être fichées. Les personnes susceptibles d’être impliquées dans des affaires de plus petite délinquance seront aussi répertoriées. Ces mesures, destinées à stimuler les fichiers de recoupement, sont dénoncées par certains observateurs, comme le Syndicat de la magistrature, comme un recul des libertés individuelles.

La surveillance vidéo

Le projet Loppsi instaure la possibilité pour les entreprises privées de mettre en place des caméras de surveillance sur la voie publique aux abords de leur immeuble. Les employés de l'entreprise ne devraient pas avoir accès aux vidéos. D'autre par Loppsi instaure l'utilisation des scanneurs corporels à titre expérimental.

La sécurité routière

Le projet de loi instaure la confiscation du véhicule en cas de conduite sans permis de récidive de conduite sous l’emprise de l’alcool ou de grand excès de vitesse. Le trafic de points de permis sera puni d'une peine de 6 mois de prison et/ou de 15.000 euros d'amende. Les bars et discothèques auront pour obligation de mettre à disposition de leur client des dispositifs de dépistage de l’imprégnation alcoolique. Des dispositifs d'éthylotests anti-démarrages pourront être imposés dans certains cas. Les peines encourues en cas de délit de fuite sont aggravées.

L’intelligence économique

Les sociétés d’intelligence économique devront demander une autorisation au préfet pour exercer, et devront faire valider les dossiers de leurs dirigeants, gérants, et associés. Les militaires et policiers devront respecter un délai de trois ans avant de pouvoir y occuper un emploi.

La sécurité dans les stades

Une personne coupable pourra être interdite de stade dès la commission d’un fait grave. L’interdiction pourra durer six mois au lieu de trois actuellement, voire à douze mois en cas de réitération intervenue dans les trois années précédentes. Une peine d’emprisonnement d’un an sera par ailleurs encourue en cas de méconnaissance de l’arrêté préfectoral d’interdiction.

La modification du fonctionnement de la police

Le directeur de la police municipale pourra se voir attribuer le statut d’officier de la police judiciaire. De plus, les policiers municipaux pourront participer aux contrôles d’identité sous l’autorité d’un officier de police judiciaire. D'autre part, le projet de loi propose de moderniser la réserve civile de la police nationale qui pourra recruter des personnes issues de toute catégorie socioprofessionnelle.

Le développement de la visioconférence

La visioconférence sera utilisée pendant les audiences dans les centres de rétention.

Sur nombre de ces aspects, l'opposition, les syndicats et les organisations de défense des droits de l'homme dénoncent une "surenchère liberticide". fin de citation (Sources le Nouvel Observateur)


(Sources : Le Post, Marianne 2, Nel Obs, Le JDD, Rue 89, Zdnet, Reporter's notes)

Update:

✍✍✍ Any time an International currency transaction occurs, banking institutions connect to the SWIFT network, which identifies the source and details of a transaction. The data is then stored on network servers based in Switzerland and the U.S. The SWIFT network is used by over 8,000 different banks around the world. The infrastructure is an ideal way for intelligence agencies to track terrorist financing and has been the main instrument used to investigate such funding since 9/11. The U.S. had direct access to European transactions immediately after the attack. Since then, that agreement has expired and new negotiations implementing a long term agreement are underway. In the mean time, the U.S. and other countries needed an interim solution.

The EU announced the rejection of an interim agreement and direct access of the SWIFT network by U.S. : Parliament refused on Thursday Feb 11th to give its consent to the EU’s interim agreement on banking data transfers to the USA via the SWIFT network, amid concerns for privacy, proportionality and reciprocity. This move renders the text signed between the US and the 27 EU Member states legally void. MEPs propose to negotiate a new agreement. The resolution rejecting the agreement was approved by 378 votes to 196, with 31 abstentions. It also asks the Commission and the Council to initiate work on a long-term agreement with the USA on this issue. MEPs reiterate that any new agreement must comply with Lisbon Treaty requirements, and in particular the Charter of Fundamental Rights. (Sources Zdnet)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota, apologies, again...

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said Tuesday he accepts "personal responsibility" for the automaker's recalls and safety woes and vowed to rebuild confidence in the company. Toyota announced it was recalling 437,000 Prius and other hybrid vehicles globally to repair a flaw in the braking system, the latest in a series of recalls affecting millions of vehicles worldwide. "I am deeply disappointed by (the recalls) and apologize." "As the president of Toyota, I take personal responsibility. That is why I am personally leading the effort to restore trust in our word and in our product." He wrote that the company in its 70-year history "has always put the needs of our customers first" and that Toyota "has not lived up to the high standards we set for ourselves" with the recent recalls.

How the Japanese TV presented the last message of the Nagoya firm chief

VDO


video

I am told by sources in Tokyo that a few months ago, some Toyota US based PR managers resigned, anticipating the difficulties of the firm. Bureaucracy, lack of care for the consumers, lack of proper communication with the public, etc. I am also told that Toyota went cheap on some components. So it's not just a few default, it might be as well a policy.

Time to stop bowing, to stand back and to watch out... anyone.

(Sources: youtube, wire services, reporter's notes)


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Palestine: back to the negotiations table? Nothing sure, again.



Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki

"Political negotiations and international protections needed and we won't be dragged in confrontations with Israel because we know we will loose".
Riad Malki


In Tokyo, visiting Palestine President Abbas stressed yesterday that the peace negotiations must be based on the 2003 performance-based road map presented by the European Union, Russia, United States and the United Nations that calls for Palestine to end "all acts of violence against Israelis" and demands that Israel "freeze all settlement activity" and "take all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life within a 4 months agenda."

In the meantime, Israeli forces have raided a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank, arresting at least 40 people. The arrests on Monday at the Shuafat camp in annexed east Jerusalem were part of an operation that Israeli police said was aimed at "putting order" in the area. The dispute took a violent turn when Palestinian schoolchildren threw rocks at Israeli police vehicles heading into Shoafat Refugee Camp on Monday, injuring four officers, an Israeli police spokesman said.

We invited at the FCCJ the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki who accompanies president Abbas, Malki said that any renewed peace talks with Israel, which have been stalled since the launching of a three-week Gaza war in December 2008, must focus on border issues and set a deadline of four months.

The Palestinian cabinet "strongly condemned" what it called an Israeli incursion and its senior officials said negotiations with Israel could resume only if they focussed on borders and other core conflict issues and set out a clear deadline. Citing biblical roots to the city, Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its "indivisible and eternal capital," a claim that has not been recognised internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel after the 1967 conflict, to be the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli and Palestinian protesters have squared off on a weekly basis in the past few months during generally peaceful demonstrations staged against Israel's recent seizure of homes inhabited by Palestinians in parts of East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, the leader of Hamas said yesterday he sees "no prospects' for a Mideast peace settlement, a stand that could reduce Russia's chances of holding a Middle East peace conference that includes the Palestinian militant group. Khaled Mashaal said that Israeli leaders bring "war and occupation, thus blocking meaningful negotiations regarding the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon. "In the nearest future we see no prospects of peace settlement in the region, in Syria and Lebanon," Mashaal said.

How and when a solution ?

The Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and the UN – is expected to hold a high level meeting toward the end of February in Moscow to assess the current diplomatic situation. According to an European official, Abbas still "seems to be maintaining that negotiations at this stage would not lead to anything, and would only undermine his position among his own constituency." The official said it was difficult now for Abbas "to convince his people that going to negotiations would be any different than in the past, and that just as nothing came out of the Oslo process, Camp David, Annapolis or talks with former prime minister Ehud Olmert, so too new negotiations would not likely lead anywhere." "What they fear," the official said of the PA leadership, "is that they will go into negotiations and everything will be opened yet again. They want to know where the starting point is, and their starting point is what they think was agreed in the past: that a Palestinian state will be established on territory along the 1967 lines, that Jerusalem will be a shared capital, and that there will be an agreed – not unilaterally imposed – solution to the refugee issue." Once those principles were agreed upon, he said, the Palestinians would be willing to enter talks and discuss where borders would run, which settlements would be removed and which would stay, and the terms of a land swap.

When scholars forcing the US views enter the arena: It gives this document:

"Imposing Middle East Peace an analysis" by the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre

Quotes "The continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank seems to have finally locked in the permanence of Israel’s colonial project. Israel has crossed the threshold from the Middle East’s only democracy to the only “apartheid regime” in the Western world. But forceful outside intervention may provide one final hope to reverse the settlement enterprise and achieve a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the absence of forward movement on the “peace process,” third-party initiatives once thought to constitute unwanted interference now appear to be the only path to the conflict’s resolution. Proposals emanating from Europe and the Palestinian Authority could pave the way for an exercise of Palestinian self-determination in the occupied territories, but only if the US sets aright the chronic imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians. If left to their own devices – including, as some have proposed, to reconcile their conflicting historical “narratives” – the further usurpation of Palestinian lands, and the disappearance of the two-state option, is all but ensured. The outcome will depend in large measure on whether the Obama administration transitions from a role of “facilitation” to one of “intervention” before Israel’s settlement policy consigns the two-state solution to the dustbin of history."

In other words, Abbas is working with the US and not as sincerely with the other partners of the Quartet for a solution that his people won't accept nor Israel...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Ainu claim independence to Prime Minister Hatoyama







Ainu were recognized as indigenous people in 2008, they now want independence!

Being Japanese, an illusion of homogeneity?

On Hokkaido, northern island of Japan, the original inhabitants are the Ainu (アイヌ). An indigenous ethnic group of Japan like Maori or Tahitians in the Pacific. Historically they spoke their own language and lived in Hokkaido, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin.

Most of those who identify themselves as Ainu still live in this same region, how many are they today? Ainu backgrounds hiding their identities and confusion over mixed heritages makes it difficult to answer. Official estimates of the population are of around 25,000, whilst unofficially the number is upwards of 200,000 people.

The Ainu people were victims of a genocide since the 15th century. Oppressed, hunt, murdered, they never stopped claiming that the land and their culture be given back, never heard by Japanese rulers. Nothing to envy to Tibetans facing China invasion in the 1950's or the "Bretons" of France killed by the French republicans in the 18th century.

In 1899 the Japanese government passed an act labeling the Ainu as former aborigines, with the idea they would assimilate - this resulted in the land the Ainu people lived on being taken by the Japanese government, and was from then on under Japanese control. Also at this time, the Ainu were granted automatic Japanese citizenship, effectively denying them of being an indigenous group.

Today, many Ainu dislike the term Ainu because it had once been used with derogatory nuance, and prefer to identify themselves as Utari (comrade in the Ainu language). In official documents both names are used. Today Ainu leaders claim recognition of their language, culture, and from the new Democrat government of Yukio Hatoyama.

This interview is the most impressive I ever made of an Ainu leader obtained while I visited Hokkaido very recently invited by the 2010 APEC Sapporo Secretariat, an interview of Mr Sawaiaku who is the head of the International affairs department of the Ainu Association. Cheerful, a lot of humanity, he compares the political movement of the Ainu to the fight for peace and freedom of Pacific territories aborigines. Pay attention to the last question asked.

VDO (at Ainu cultural promotion center and museum, Sapporo Pirka Kotan)

video
Mr. Sawaiaku: "The most urgent thing I'll ask to Yukio Hatoyama is the return of our territorial rights to the Ainu people."

His requests are strong: Ainu independence, Ainu territory rights and recognition of the land of the Ainu and of their way of life and language. His requests in this outing also show they want to disband from the Japanese economic and social system ruled by Japanese government, this document testifies the hardship endured by Ainu for generations.

For many Ainu people and their political supporters, in other words, the Ainu Cultural Promotion Law is not the end of a struggle for recognition, but rather the start of an ongoing process of negotiation with the Japanese state about the boundaries of self determination. The law's most important feature is that it does at least mark recognition by the state that there is something to negotiate about and someone to negotiate with. In this sense, it represents an important break with the entrenched assumption that all Japanese citizens share a single race, culture and identity. Given the unequal power relationship of the participants, however, this new phase of negotiation will be a long and difficult one whose outcome remains uncertain.




Ainu are indeed indigenous and minority peoples

As signatories of the United Nations Treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which was signed by Japan in 1979, the Japanese had been forced to face the issue that the Ainu were indeed indigenous and minority peoples, which supported the Ainu in their pursuit of their rights to their distinct culture and language. There are many different organizations of Ainu trying to further their cause in many different ways.

There is an umbrella group of which most Hokkaido Ainu and some other Ainu are members, called the Hokkaido Utari Association, originally controlled by the government with the intention of speeding Ainu assimilation and integration into the Japanese nation-state, which now operates mostly independently of the government and is run exclusively by Ainu.

On 6 June 2008, a bi-partisan, non-binding resolution was approved by the Japanese Diet calling upon the government to recognize the Ainu people as indigenous to Japan and urge an end to discrimination against the group. The resolution recognized the Ainu people as "an indigenous people with a distinct language, religion and culture" and rescinds the law passed in 1899.

Though the resolution is historically significant, Hideaki Uemura, professor at Keisen University in Tokyo and a specialist in indigenous peoples' rights, commented that the motion is "weak in the sense of recognizing historical facts" as the Ainu were "forced" to become Japanese in the first place.



History, a review of the Ainu genocide

In the mid-1400's, "the Japanese extended their influence over southern Hokkaido, primarily Esashi and Matsumae. Later, they came to op-press the Ainu. To resist the oppression by the Japanese, the Ainu waged the Battle of Kosyamain in 1457, the Battle of Syaksyain in 1669, and the Battle of Kunasiri-Menasi in 1789. The Ainu lost each time. After losing the Battle of Kunasiri-Menasi in particular, the Ainu fell completely under the control of the Japanese.

They remained oppressed and exploited by the Japanese until the Meiji era. In the Meiji era, under the government policy of assimilation, the Ainu were prohibited from observing their daily customs. Given the status of former aborigines, the Ainu were forced to abide by Japanese daily customs. In 1899, the Hokkaido Aborigine Protection Act was passed. The act primarily aimed to provide relief for the Ainu and help them become engaged in agriculture. However, the act designated the Ainu as "former aborigines" and clarified the distinction between the Japanese and the Ainu.

In the late Meiji era, with an increasing number of Japanese colonizing Hokkaido from Honshu, the oppression and exploitation of the Ainu was replaced by discrimination against them. Discrimination against the Ainu still remains today and has become a major social problem.

Various activities are being vigorously promoted to revive the Ainu language and to preserve and maintain Ainu culture, such as traditional dancing and various ceremonies. Ainu language classes are being held in various parts of Hokkaido. Moreover, associations to preserve traditional dancing have been organized to revive and conduct ceremonies such as Iyomante and Chipsanke.

Ainu who lived in Hokkaido, the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin were called "Hokkaido Ainu", "Kurile Ainu" and "Sakhalin Ainu" respectively. Most Ainu now live in Hokkaido. It has been confirmed that a few Ainu people now live in Sakhalin. The census of the Ainu was started by the Japanese in the 1800 s for various purposes, e.g. for putting them to work. The Ainu population from 1807 to 1931 varied as follows : 1807 : 26,256 1822 : 23,563 1854 : 17,810 1873 : 16,272 1903 : 17,783 1931 : 15,969.

These figures (estimated ones) show that the population decreased particularly sharply from 1822 to 1854. The reasons for the decrease were, among others, the spread through the Ainu population of such diseases as smallpox, measles, cholera, tuberculosis and venereal diseases and the breakup of families due to forced labor. According to a current survey conducted by the Hokkaido Government in 1984, the Ainu population of Hokkaido then was 24,381."

June 6, 2008 will go down in the pages of history as a groundbreaking memorial day. On this day, the Diet resolution calling for the government to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and to further implement related measures was unanimously passed and approved during the Upper House plenary session. Will Yukio Hatoyama and the new leadership pay attention to what constitutes, brutality included, an other unbearable outrage to humanity?



History of the Ainu

Japan's Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity Book by Michael Weiner; Routledge, 1997

Quotes of Richard Siddle :

"The Ainu are the indigenous people of northern Japan. At first glance this may appear a straightforward and uncontroversial statement; after all, the subordination and dispossession of the Ainu under a colonial regime in Hokkaido has numerous parallels among other Fourth World populations like Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, Inuit, Maori, Sami and others, estimated to number between 200 and 300 million people. Sparked into political activism during the wave of worldwide decolonization following the Second World War, many internally colonized ‘native’ or ‘tribal’ populations have redefined themselves as ‘indigenous peoples’.

In common with these other groups, the Ainu were dispossessed of their ancestral land and resources by the expansion of a vigorous colonial state. Traditional life-ways collapsed as hunting and fishing territories were settled by waves of immigrants and transformed into agricultural land. Government policies of relocation and assimilation aimed at the eventual extinction of the Ainu as a people, aided by a system of ‘native education’ that actively discouraged Ainu language and customs.

While clearly supported by the historical record, such an interpretation arouses considerable opposition within Japan. Official and popular history views the creation of Hokkaido as an exercise in ‘development’ (kaitaku), not colonialism. At the level of commonsense understanding a master narrative of seamless national homogeneity denies the existence of the Ainu as an ethnic minority group; the Ainu are regarded as either totally assimilated or biologically extinct.

Nevertheless, a striking ‘ethnic revival’ is underway among the Ainu. The cultural symbols and rhetoric of Ainuness have become highly visible in recent decades as Ainu leaders press their claim for justice and rights as a separate and indigenous people."

(sources: Ainu museum, Hokkaido university, Wikipedia, Reporter's notes)


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