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A Shift in Japan's Stance on Indigenous Rights, and its Implications

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

This article details a recent change in the position of the Japanese government towards the Ainu people, from assimilation and denial towards recognition of indigenousness and indigenous rights. It then gives reasons for this change in relation to the international context, with particular reference to external pressures which Japan faces to conform to international standards, and asks whether these pressures are likely to have an effect on the government's position with regard to the population of Okinawa. It locates this recent shift in Japan's stance in a general pattern of change in the Asian Pacific on indigenous rights, comparing this pattern to developments in Africa, and finally examines the question of whether the pressures which brought about the change in Japan's position on the Ainu are likely to affect other Asian states.

Affiliations: 1: PhD Candidate, School of Law, University of Liverpool, UK


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