• Indigenous peoples in Japan

    Indigenous peoples in Japan

The Indigenous World 2021: Japan

The two Indigenous Peoples of Japan, the Ainu and the 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 centres for work and to escape the more prevalent discrimination on Hokkaido. Since June 2008, the Ainu have been officially recognised as 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), though experts estimate the actual population to be much higher.[1]

Okinawans, or Ryūkyūans, 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 colonised the Ryūkyūs 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 and Okinawans became Japanese. The island of Okinawa is home to 1.1 million of the 1.4 million Okinawans living throughout the Ryūkyūs. The Japanese government does not recognise Okinawans as Indigenous people.

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

Following implementation of the Ainu New Law in 2019,[2] the Ainu people were again in the spotlight in the Japanese media in 2020 due to the opening in July of a new National Museum of the Ainu (the Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park, hereafter “Upopoy”). Many issues nevertheless remain in regard to advancing Indigenous policy, particularly in terms of the rights to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent.

In terms of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, while there have been no reports of deaths among the Ainu of Japan, just like members of any other society. Ainu communities in Hokkaido have faced severe economic challenges in maintaining their livelihoods. Considering particularly that the tourism industry plays an important role in the Hokkaido economy, Ainu individuals engaged in small-scale tourism-related businesses have been hard hit.[3] Moreover, despite now being at a critical juncture in terms of lobbying against the shortcomings of Ainu policy set out in the New Ainu Law and the running of the Upopoy, critical public discussion on these developments has been forced to a virtual halt by the effects of the coronavirus.[4]

Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park

Following developments in Ainu-rights politics in Japan in the wake of the Japanese government’s vote in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007, and official recognition of the Ainu as Indigenous people of Japan in 2008, the Cabinet-chaired Council for Ainu Policy Promotion in 2009 proposed creating a “symbolic space for ethnic harmony”. A decade later, in July 2020, this proposal took concrete shape with the opening of the Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park in Shiraoi Town, Hokkaido, under the management of the Ainu Culture Promotion / Research Foundation.[5]

The Upopoy, which cost over USD 182 million to construct,[6] is the first national facility honouring the Ainu, and it aims to promote Ainu culture and raise public awareness of the Ainu. The Upopoy is built on the former site of - and replaces - the Ainu Museum at Shiraoi, which was independently and privately run by an Ainu general incorporated association. In terms of size, the new national museum now surpasses that of the Ainu exhibit at the Hokkaido Museum in Sapporo, run by Hokkaido Prefecture. The Upopoy complex is over 100,000 square metres in size, comprising three areas for displaying and preserving Ainu culture: a National Museum building, an outdoor National Ethnic Harmony Park museum, and a memorial facility for housing Ainu ancestral remains.[7] The Hokkaido Shimbun compiled data based on the 2019 survey results from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The 2019 MEXT report showed that there were some 1,574 Ainu human remains stored in 12 universities throughout the country. Some of them were repatriated at the request of individuals and communities. The Upopoy memorial facility houses the human remains of 1,323 Ainu individuals and 287 boxes of aggregated remains and has been cast as a “temporary resting place” for these ancestors until they can be repatriated to their home communities, upon request.[8] The challenge posed by the repatriation of Ainu human remains sheds lights on the highly problematic and unethical research conducted by researchers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

As a first step toward increasing awareness about the Ainu, as well as providing opportunities for Ainu individuals to gain employment in a job that will allow them to practise their culture, the museum has been welcomed by some Ainu.[9] However, criticism has also been levelled at the Upopoy by Ainu activists who feel that the “culture” being displayed there is not authentic,[10] that the information shared is not reflective enough of the colonial nature of Ainu history,[11] that the voices of local Ainu communities have not been fully reflected in the planning and creation of the displays,[12] that the presence of the memorial facility alone does not substitute for an apology by universities[13] for the grief and sorrow wrought by highly problematic and unethical research on Ainu human remains,[14] and that the repatriation process supported by the memorial facility is insufficient.[15]

Lack of self-determination and free, prior and informed consent

Meanwhile, over and above the issues raised by Ainu involvement in the running and management of the Upopoy, the major shortcoming in the Ainu New Law, namely that the Japanese government has not yet recognized Ainu self-determination as an Ainu right,[16] continues to be criticized by Ainu activists. A number of significant issues came to light in 2020.

First, disputes over the inherent Ainu right to use their land and resources freely for their own community development are continuing. While these issues currently revolve around riverine fishing rights, what is ultimately at stake is the restoration of Ainu rights to self-determination over the territories and resources that were stripped from them during the processes of colonization and incorporation into the Japanese state.[17]

Criminal charges brought against Ainu fisherman Hatakeyama Satoshi[18] for harvesting salmon without prior permission in September 2018 were ultimately suspended by the Asahikawa District Court in July 2020. Hatakeyama, aged 79, has since suffered a stroke and has been in the hospital since spring 2020. The reason for suspending the charges is not known but it can be assumed that their filing in court would have led to considerable negative publicity for Hokkaido Prefecture and the Japanese state.[19] That the indictment has been suspended rather than dropped, however, continues to cast a threat over further Ainu protests over fishing as they remain potentially “illegal” actions. In the meantime, Ainu and non-Ainu supporters of Hatakeyama are gathering petitions to submit to the Hokkaido Governor to rectify this situation.

Meanwhile, another Ainu organization, the Rahoro Ainu Nation of Urahoro Town (formerly the Urahoro Ainu Association) has taken a different route in the fight to restore their rights to resources. In a historic turn of events that foregrounds the entire historical process of the annexation and colonization of Hokkaido, the Rahoro Nation has filed litigation against the Japanese state and the Prefecture of Hokkaido to confirm that their riverine harvesting rights have historically never been extinguished by Japanese law.[20] How this litigation will develop remains to be seen but, if the plaintiffs’ core argument that their rights remain intact is recognized, it could lead to recognition of a variety of Ainu communal rights. It is expected that the government will fight tooth-and-nail to deny the plaintiff’s claim.

In what is an affront to the right to free, prior and informed consent to development conducted on Indigenous lands, in October, two Hokkaido municipalities, Suttsu Town and Kamuynai Village, filed to become potential nuclear waste-disposal sites without any consultation of the Ainu people. Citizens’ groups, including Ainu members, have submitted statements to the mayors of the two municipalities[21] denouncing the municipal authorities’ decisions and indicating that these constitute a breach of FPIC. Given that neither Hokkaido Prefecture nor the Japanese state even mentioned the Ainu in their exchanges with the two municipalities, this issue also throws light on the question of prefectural and national intervention for the sake of local Indigenous rights.[22]

COVID-19 in Okinawa

In 2020, COVID-19 brought various difficulties to Okinawans, as it did to other Indigenous Peoples across the globe. After the first case was registered on the islands in February, subsequent increases[23] meant that, by August, the number of confirmed cases per 100,000 population in Okinawa was higher than the national average, and continued to grow thereafter.[24] One of the reasons for this is assumed to be travel to and from Okinawa, stimulated by the national government's tourism policy that commenced in July to boost the depressed economy, as also pointed out by the Governor of Okinawa.[25] An additional concern in this regard is secondary infection through US military personnel in Okinawa.[26] Despite the increase in number of positive cases on the bases,[27] US military authorities shared only limited information about them, for example withholding information on transmission routes. Moreover, according to media reports, not all the military personnel were taking infection tests on entering Okinawa until the end of July.[28]

As elsewhere in the world, COVID-19 has affected many of the plans on the human rights agenda as many gatherings, meetings or events had to be postponed or scaled down. For instance, the trial dates on the repatriation of ancestral human remains were postponed, and the number of public seats at open trials was considerably reduced.[29] However, migration of some events online, for example the symposium on the US military bases in December, which brought together panellists from Okinawa and Tokyo, may have helped to reach a wider audience and broaden alliances.[30]

Disputes on Indigeneity

One of the significant issues carried over from previous years was a dispute on whether Okinawans are Indigenous Peoples. Notably, several local governments in Okinawa, as well as the main island of Japan that received the petition, have adopted resolutions on this matter in recent years. They are calling on the Government of Japan to work with human rights treaty bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Human Rights Committee to convince them to withdraw their recommendations that recognize Okinawans as Indigenous Peoples. In response to one of the latest such resolutions adopted by Ginowan City Council (GCC) in December 2019, the All Okinawa Council for Human Rights issued a statement in November 2020 criticizing the GCC's resolution for its failure to understand international human rights law and treating the notion of Indigenous Peoples as based on biological distinctions rather than collective rights holders under international law.[31] Various individual opinions and editorials on the subject, both in support of UN treaty bodies' recommendations and against them, were also published in local newspapers during 2020, stimulating the debate on the notion of Indigenous Peoples on Ryūkyū islands.[32]

US military bases

Another ongoing struggle was against the US military bases in Okinawa, especially with regard to the Japanese government's plan to construct a new base in Henoko. Notably, the land reclamation works for the base, which started in December 2018, carried on during 2020 with only a two-month suspension from April to June because of COVID-19.[33] The Government of Japan is forging ahead with the plan,[34] ignoring the opposition to it from Okinawans, particularly expressed through a local referendum in February 2019 where more than 70% of the votes went against the construction.[35] The protestors have continued their sit-ins to oppose the construction, totalling 6,000 days in all in September.[36] Among the multiple court cases,[37] the Supreme Court of Japan ruled in favour of the Japanese government in March, dismissing Okinawa Prefecture's lawsuit seeking to stop the landfill work.[38] In November, Naha District Court also rejected another lawsuit by Okinawa Prefecture, which then appealed to the higher court in December.[39]

In this context, it is notable that Okinawan youth have been actively standing against these issues, particularly the construction of a new base in Henoko. For instance, the 2019 local referendum questioning the plan was proposed and campaigned on by one of the young Okinawans, Jinshiro Motoyama, who over the years has given many talks on this matter across Japan, including this year.[40] He and a group of other young Okinawans also submitted the petition to local governments in both Okinawa and the main island of Japan, requesting that they respect the result of the referendum and stop the construction.[41] The petition has been adopted by multiple local governments, including Okinawa Prefectural Assembly in March 2020.[42] To provide clearer historical views, a young Okinawan activist has also developed YouTube videos on the subject.[43] In addition, in February, 40 students at Okinawa International University submitted their letters to the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, inviting him to visit the islands and see the human rights situation there.[44]

Repatriation movement

The repatriation of Okinawan human remains is also an ongoing issue. In 2020, the 5th, 6th and 7th hearings were held in the lawsuit against Kyoto University,[45] filed in December 2018, concerning human remains taken by anthropologists in the early 20th century.[46] Referring to Article 12 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the plaintiffs in the case have demanded repatriation of their ancestral remains. Kyoto University, the defendant, denies Okinawan Indigeneity and hence dismisses the demand for repatriation of the human remains concerned.[47] As the battle in court was unfolding, in July 2020, the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education measured and investigated 63 sets of human remains transferred from National Taiwan University in March 2019. The Board is built into a Japanese bureaucratic system and the investigation was done despite the bereaved families' requests for repatriation and aerial reburial.[48] Furthermore, in October, the research facility under the Board that was holding these remains refused the request of several Okinawans to perform the ritual for their ancestors at the facility.[49]

On 1 December, at the Pacific and Asia virtual regional meeting within the 13th session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Prof. Yasukatsu Matsushima read a joint statement on behalf of two Indigenous rights organizations, Nirai Kanai nu Kai[50] and Shimin Gaikou Centre, in this regard. The statement reads, “Grave robbery, storage, and research of our ancestors' human remains by academic institutions have deeply damaged our funerary practices, spiritual world, peace of mind, and dignity as peoples,” asserting the violation of their human rights as Indigenous Peoples.[51]

Other incidents

Contributing to the awareness of human rights issues in Okinawa, there were also multiple events in 2020. For instance, the 34th Human Rights Training and Research Assembly was held for the first time in Okinawa in February. The speakers and participants, more than 1,000 people, discussed various human rights issues surrounding the islands, including structural discrimination, historical assimilation and sexual violence.[52] In the same month, Meio University held an international symposium on the revitalization of Okinawan languages and cultural education.[53]

The ongoing struggles for human rights will continue in 2021. The impacts of COVID-19 will persist and further work needs to be carried out to address various concerns, including construction of the new base in Henoko, the repatriation of human remains, as well as the dispute over the Indigeneity of Okinawans.



Dr. Kanako Uzawa is an Ainu researcher, Ainu rights advocate and member of the Association of Rera in Tokyo. She recently completed her PhD at the Arctic University of Norway on urban Ainu experiences with a framework of diasporic Indigeneity, raising the question of what it means to be Indigenous in a city. Kanako is also an editorial board member of AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Jeff Gayman is full Professor in the School of Education and Research Faculty of Media and Communication 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 a decade.

Fumiya Nagai is a PhD candidate at the Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, where his research focuses on Indigenous Peoples' human rights. He is also a Vice President of the Shimin Gaikou Centre, an international human rights NGO that works with Indigenous Peoples in Japan and supports their human rights advocacy.

This article is part of the 35th edition of The Indigenous World, a yearly overview produced by IWGIA that serves to document and report on the developments Indigenous Peoples have experienced.  Find The Indigenous World 2021 in full here


Notes and references

[1] Population figure 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 Accessed 10 January 2019.


Population figure 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. Accessed 10 January 2019.

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. See body of the report for further discussion on the 2017 survey.

[2] Gayman, Jeff, and Kanako Uzawa. “Japan.” In The Indigenous World 2020, edited by Dwayne Mamo, 267-273. Copenhagen: IWGIA, 2020. https://iwgia.org/images/yearbook/2020/IWGIA_The_Indigenous_World_2020.pdf

[3] Kimura, Fumio, on behalf of Citizens’ Group for Ancestral Remains of Biratori, Monbetsu Ainu Association, Alliance for the Achievement of Ainu (=Human Beings) Rights, Citizens' Alliance for The Examination of Ainu Policy, Sapporo Freedom School “YU”. Statement by Hokkaido Ainu to 13th Session of EMRIP Asian and Pacific Virtual Regional Meeting, 2 December 2020. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IPeoples/EMRIP/Session13/submissions/AP/2020-12-01-statement-hokkaido-ainu.pdf

[4] Kimura, Ibid.

[5] Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park. “About Upopoy.” Accessed 10 January 2021. https://ainu-upopoy.jp/about/

[6] Bassetti, Francesco. “Japan opens the Upopoy Museum, the first dedicated to Ainu indigenous identity.” Lifegate Homepage, 22 July 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.lifegate.com/upopoy-museum-ainu-japan

[7] Bassetti, Ibid.

[8] Hokkaido Shimbun. “Ainu repatriation stalled 202 bodies and 59 boxes in 8 universities stakeholders demand more positive involvement from State one year after aggregation of remains at Upopoy.” Hokkaido Shimbun Press, 27 December 2020.


[9] Ukaji, Shizue. The point is how to best foster the Upopoy. Special Issue: How do the Ainu see ‘Upopoy’? Gekkan Ki. Tokyo: Fujiwara Shoten, p.2

[10] Bassetti, Francesco. “Japan opens the Upopoy Museum, the first dedicated to Ainu indigenous identity.” Lifegate Homepage, 22 July, 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.lifegate.com/upopoy-museum-ainu-japan

[11] Hokkaido Shimbun. “Symposium on Upopoy, Sapporo. Face history, transmit culture.” Hokkaido Shimbun Press, 25 August 2020. Original article on file with the author.

[12] Hokkaido Shimbun, Ibid.

[13] The human remains of approximately 200 Ainu ancestors are said to be held at various universities and museums throughout the country of Japan, at least in part because some descendants refused to allow the universities to transfer them to the Upopoy memorial facility. The issue of a lack of official apology from these universities is a related challenge.

[14] Hokkaido Shimbun. “Ainu people claim “Japanese State violates rights”. Four organizations deliver statement at UN online conference.” Hokkaido Shimbun Press, 2 December 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/article/487337

[15] Hokkaido Shimbun, Ibid.

[16] Gayman, Jeff, and Kanako Uzawa. “Japan.” In The Indigenous World 2020, edited by Dwayne Mamo, 267-273. Copenhagen: IWGIA, 2020. https://iwgia.org/images/yearbook/2020/IWGIA_The_Indigenous_World_2020.pdf

[17] Centre for Environmental and Minority Policy Studies (CemiPos), Citizens’ Alliance for the Examination of Ainu Policy, Monbetsu Ainu Association, Sapporo Freedom School. 2 December 2020. Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee at Geneva for the Periodic Review of Japan. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pMd_aZkUZIJrpAdcDXdleXIOoFQ7uEfLq0nbrL2rHxc/edit

See also Basseti, Ibid, and Kimura, Ibid, p.1.

[18] Gayman, Jeff, and Kanako Uzawa. “Japan.” In The Indigenous World 2020, edited by Dwayne Mamo, 267-273. Copenhagen: IWGIA, 2020. https://iwgia.org/images/yearbook/2020/IWGIA_The_Indigenous_World_2020.pdf

[19] IPRI (Indigenous Peoples Rights International). “Criminalising Rituals and Traditional Occupations: The Struggle of Ainu in Japan, A Century Hence.” 9 September 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://indigenousrightsinternational.org/news-and-events/news-and-features/criminalising-rituals-and-traditional-occupations-the-struggle-of-ainu-in-japan-a-century-hence

[20] Asahi Shimbun.“Litigation for Indigenous title “A turning point” “If discussion is deepened”.” 18 August 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASN8K7D8GN8KIIPE00Q.html

[21] Citizens’ Alliance for the Examination of Ainu Policy, Ainu Information Center of the Japan Christian Church Hokkaido Branch, Council on Peace and Social Justice of the Catholic Church, Sapporo Branch, Peace Council of Hokkaido Ecumenical Organizations. “Statement on the Decision of the Municipalities Regarding Nuclear Waste Disposal Facilities.” 5 October 2020. 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/%E6%A0%B8%E3%81%AE%E3%81%94%E3%81%BF-%E6%9C%80%E7%B5%82%E5%87%A6%E5%88%86%E5%A0%B4%E3%81%AE%E9%81%B8%E5%AE%9A%E3%82%92%E3%82%81%E3%81%90%E3%82%8B%E8%87%AA%E6%B2%BB%E4%BD%93%E3%81%AE%E6%B1%BA%E5%AE%9A%E3%81%AB%E9%96%A2%E3%81%99%E3%82%8B%E5%A3%B0%E6%98%8E/

[22] Centre for Environmental and Minority Policy Studies (CemiPos), Citizens’ Alliance for the Examination of Ainu Policy, Monbetsu Ainu Association, Sapporo Freedom School. “Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee ​at Geneva for the Periodic Review of Japan.” 2 December 2020. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pMd_aZkUZIJrpAdcDXdleXIOoFQ7uEfLq0nbrL2rHxc/edit

[23] For a transitioning situation of COVID-19 cases in Okinawa, see: “Data on COVID-19 in Okinawa Prefecture.” NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai). Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/special/coronavirus/data/pref/okinawa.html

[24] Yomiuri Shimbun. “The number of the people infected in Okinawa per 100,000 population is higher than that of Tokyo... The first outbreak in Akita.” 8 August 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/20200807-OYT1T50283/

[25] Okinawa Times. “Expansion of COVID-19 in Okinawa 'GoTo is one of the factors,' the Governor Tamaki: Call to tourists for their health care.” 24 August 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/621005; Tonaki, Morita. “Highest infection rate, government's 'man-made disaster': Clarified routes through GoTo and US military.” Okinawa Times. 20 August 2020. Print.

[26] Nirai Kanai nu Kai and Shimin Gaikou Centre. “Joint Statement” submitted to 13th Session of EMRIP/Pacific and Asia Virtual Regional Meeting. 1 December 2020. http://shimingaikou.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/the-Joint-Statement-by-Nirai-Kainu-nu-Kai_SGC.pdf

[27] Handa, Shigeru. “People infected by COVID-19 in US military bases, arising in succession: 'Emergency' as no information provided with Japan.”" Gendai Business. 30 March 2020: https://gendai.ismedia.jp/articles/-/71457; Okinawa Times. “72 confirmed cases, the highest number per day, at US military bases in Okinawa: All traveled from the oversea, confirmed as positive after the quarantine.” 1 December 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/671595

[28] Handa, op. cit.; “'Okinawa is a paradise': Shallow sense of danger among the military personnel.” Okinawa Times. 9 August 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/614045 Yet, in August, some of them could still be entering without infection tests. See Tonaki, op. cit.

[29] Nirai Kanai nu Kai and Shimin Gaikou Centre, op. cit.

[30] Ryukyu Shimpo. “2 years since the dirt dumped to Henoko, thinking about the military issues in Tokyo, 'the main island should direct their eyes to Okinawa.”. 13 December 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/entry-1240976.html

[31] Ryukyu Shimpo. “Concerns on Okinawan councils working on the retreat of 'Recommendations on Indigenous peoples': Researchers' organisation says, 'They promote human rights abuses'.” 8 November 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/entry-1221805.html The statement of All Okinawa Council for Human Rights can be downloaded at: http://okinawahumanrights.blogspot.com/

[32] For example, Hiroshi Nakachi. “Abe's era and Okinawa.” Okinawa Times. 8 September 2020. Print; “Governor's view, 'self-torment historical view'.” Okinawa Times. 25 September 2020. Print; Uchimi, Shozo. “Rondan: Thinking about local governments' resolutions, accept 'UN recommendations'.” Ryukyu Shimpo. 2 November 2020. Print.

[33] Okada, Shohei and Shinichi Fujiwara. “Restart of the Henoko construction stopped by COVID-19: The governor says, 'A huge regret'.” Asahi Shimbun. 12 June 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASN6D3SMRN6DTIPE002.html

[34] The new Prime Minister Suga, replaced in September, is also sticking to the plan. See Prime Minister's Office of Japan. “General Policy Speech by Prime Minister Suga at 203rd Diet session.” 26 October 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/99_suga/statement/2020/1026shoshinhyomei.html

[35] Ryukyu Shimpo. “Editorial: 2 years since the dirt dumped into Henoko, the construction should be stopped immediately.” 15 December 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://ryukyushimpo.jp/editorial/entry-1241420.html

[36] Ryukyu Shimpo. “Sit-ins in Henoko for 6,000 days: Citizens' renewed resolution, continuing the protest.” 22 September 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/entry-1195293.html In June 2019, one of the leaders of the protest, Hiroji Yamashiro, received the Peace Prize from the Peace Studies Association of Japan.

[37] By the end of 2020, there had been nine cases in all between Okinawa Prefecture and Japan.

[38] Asahi Shimbun. “Editorial: Supreme Court ruling on Henoko project defies common sense.” 31 March 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13259428

[39] NHK Web. “Henoko trial: Decision rejecting the claim of Okinawa Prefecture at Naha District Court.” 27 November 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20201127/k10012734841000.html

[40] Okinawa Times. “'Unconditional acceptance that the national security is difficult' on the land without the bases: The youth who led the local referendum in Okinawa, 'I believe that the people in the main island will act.” 24 February 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/538598

[41] Asahi Shimbun. “Henoko, 'pointed at Yamato,' Mr. Komesu of the petition.” 7 December 2018. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASLCY6SMSLCYUTIL04K.html; Mainichi Shimbun. “Kunitachi City Assembly, 'Stop Henoko construction,' adopted the petitioned submission.” 26 June 2019. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://mainichi.jp/articles/20190626/ddl/k13/010/004000c

[42] Committee for A New Proposal to Stop the New US Military Base Construction in Henoko. 2020. “Assemblies that adopted the petitions.” 2020. https://henokostopaction2017.p-kit.com/page481790.html

[43] The YouTube videos can be accessed at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8Kxe-Wh3Baop2ui76xq5-Q

[44] Ryukyu Shimpo. “'Please see the current situation of Okinawa': 40 students at Okinawa International University, letters to the UN Secretary General.” 9 February 2020. Print.

[45] Each trial date is 27 February (5th), 30 July (6th), and 19 November (7th).

[46] For an overview of the processes moving towards the repatriation trial, see Uemura, Hideaki, Kihei Maekawa, and Yasukatsu Matsushima. “Discriminations caused by the modern academics: Human remains issues of Ainu and Ryukyu, and international law.” In Animated Discussions - Thinking About Ryukyu Independent; History, Education, Law, and Identity, Edited by Yasukatsu Matsushima and Kihei Maekawa. Tokyo: Akashi Shoten (2020):151-157.

[47] Ryukyu Shimpo. “Kyoto University recognises its preservation of the old human remains from Motobu: Denial illegality and refusal of disclosure, repatriation trial.” 22 November 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/entry-1229437.html

[48] Nirai Kanai nu Kai and Shimin Gaikou Centre, op. cit.

[49] Nirai Kanai nu Kai and Shimin Gaikou Centre, op. cit. On this issue, the YouTube video is also shared at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMwabRhZ3jQ

[50] Nirai Kanai nu Kai is an Okinawan organisation for the repatriation and aerial reburial of their ancestral

human remains into original graves.

[51] Nirai Kanai nu Kai and Shimin Gaikou Centre, op. cit.; Ryukyu Shimpo. “A statement by Professor Matsushima at UN 'The university should repatriate Okinawan human remains': Criticism on robbery and response by researchers.” 2 December 2020. Accessed 17 December 2020. https://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/entry-1234870.html

[52] Okinawa Times. “Solidarity of human rights, from Okinawa: Research assembly, first time in Okinawa.” 26 February 2020. Print; Ryukyu Shimpo. “Social discrimination, work together: Ginowan, human rights enlightenment assembly, until today.” 27 February 2020. Print.

[53] Ryukyu Shimpo. “Proposals for revitalisation of Okinawan languages.” 27 February 2020. Print.



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