Recent Notes 30: Some letters worth keeping
Referendum No vote means a worse Australia

Recent Notes 31: Japan’s oppressed minority


Japan has long portrayed itself as culturally and ethnically homogenous, something that some have even argued is a key to its success as a nation. More than 98% of Japanese people are descendants of the Yamato people. But the minority Ainu people, with their own distinct history, languages and culture have been victims of colonialism, assimilation, and discrimination, and much of that identity has been lost.

But now the Ainu have initiated legal action against the Japanese government to secure the group's Indigenous right to fish for salmon in the Tokachi River in Hokkaido. Salmon are revered in Ainu culture but the Ainu were banned from river fishing during the Meiji era of 1868-1912. Kaito Ichikawa, 23, said when he was a schoolboy his grandmother told him to keep his Ainu identity secret.

He grew up watching classmates bully Ainu children. At the time, Hiromasa thought he was lucky to be on the side of the bullies. Then, in his 20s, he discovered he was Ainu. He’s still shocked by how unpopular Ainu culture is but is now proud of his Ainu heritage. "I think it's cool that it's out in the open like this and we're fighting in court," he told the ABC. "I can learn things about the Ainu that I didn't know or haven't been exposed to in school. I'm learning the Ainu dance now that I want to teach my child one day." Link here to read the ABC’s full story on the Ainu’s struggle for recognition


Nalau Bingading, a customary landowner and forest scientist of the Wagangluhu tribe in Morobe Province, says he is “appalled” by the way a logging company and its “henchmen” played on the ignorance of villagers to agree to a controversial development on their land. He was referring to an agreement between landowners and Morobe Timbers Consortium to establish a ‘forest industrial park’ on 2,000 hectares of customary land. Bingading pointed to many dubious aspects of the project including the company’s claim that it will export plywood and sawn timbers

“There are only two plywood producing companies in PNG, and much of the plywood is for the local market,” Bingading said. “Since the 1970s plywood exports from PNG have dwindled, and very little plywood is exported from PNG today. To establish a new plywood mill in Wagangluhu village would cost more than K1 billion, so this is an impossibility for Morobe Timbers Consortium Ltd and the Morobe Provincial Government.” He said logging will lead to more flooding and other environmental disaster, exacerbating the impacts of climate change. Link here to read Nalau Bingading’s full article


Mariam Mathew, Pacific specialist at Transparency International Australia, reports that a recent Transparency International survey across 10 Pacific Island countries showed only 14% of people think their governments regularly take their views into account. “Having access to such information is not only a right but also a critical tool to hold people in power accountable,” she said.

“Having access to such information is not only a right but also a critical tool to hold people in power accountable. When people have access to information, they can make informed decisions and participate meaningfully in shaping policies and decisions. In other words, enabling citizen engagement in governance processes can help prevent wrongdoings.”


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William Dunlop

Oh, aye, Lindsay, And one day, oinkers might yet fly. As for voting, on Tuesday; I solved that by writing on my voting slip, 'Enable Legislation'.

A day later, Messers Mundane and Mansell were suggesting this in press articles I read.

I got my inspiration from former magistrate, Pat O'Shane, who was never ever afraid in Cairns and racist Queensland to call a spade a spade.

Lindsay F Bond

The marginalisation of the Ainu people was no more their choice than the impost put on the original Indigenous inhabitants of what is now Australia.

Constitutional recognition is a marker that will lend more sway to equity both in Japan and Australia.

Let science rise. Let insidiousness bake, not bask, under the glare of intelligence and understanding.

One planet. Oneness of humanity.

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