――In Light of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples――


The New Zealand Herald article on the repatriation of Ainu ancestral remains

The New Zealand Herald published an article entitled "Japan's indigenous Ainu battle for return of ancestors" by Simon Scott on Saturday, June 22, 2013.

This is a welcome article on the ongoing repatriation issue in Japan. As far as I know, this is the first substantial news report on the issue outside Japan but may be more informative than the previous reports published by the Japanese domestic news media.

I would like to point out, however, that the way Mr. Kato's comments are presented is somewhat misleading. Mr. Kato, also a member of the Executive Cabinet's policy panel, does not necessarily want "all the bones returned" at least in the true sense of "return" or "repatriation." He and the Ainu Association of Hokkaido want to transfer the bones currently stored in the 11 universities in Japan to the facilities for "memorial and research" planned to be constructed in his home town Shiraoi. According to the minutes of the proceedings of the government's expert policy-making panel of which he has been a member, his Ainu Association of Hokkaido is said to have agreed to the future "scientific" studies of the ancestral remains by physical anthropologists who are interested in pursuing the origins of the "Japanese people" and whose representative also sits on the working committee.

I am concerned that the article could give the readers without the background knowledge the impression that the plaintiffs and Mr. Kato's organization are at one with each other, which is not true.

I would sincerely hope to read Mr. Scott's further investigative report that will clarify where and how Mr. Kato wants to "comfort the souls of [Ainu] ancestors."

The above article was transferred from my currently closed blog "Repatriation Now! -- Issues Involving Ainu Ancestral Remains and Other Human Tissues --". It was originally posted on June 24, 2013 at