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Friday, 6th June 2008
In General Japan News,

Japan votes to recognise indigenous people

For the first time, Japan's Diet has voted in favour of formally recognising the existence of the country's indigenous population.

In a unanimous vote by both the house of representatives and the house of councillors, the country's Ainu are to be recognised as indigenous to the islands of Japan.

The Ainu are indigenous to the island of Hokkaido in the north of the country and, according to the BBC, the ethnic group can also be found in Russia's far eastern island of southern Sakhalin, and the Kurile Islands.

"This resolution has great meaning. It has taken the Japanese government 140 years to recognise us as an indigenous people," said Tadashi Kato, director of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, in the BBC report.

According to a report by the Mainichi Daily News, under the adopted resolution the discrimination faced by the Ainu is recognised in the statement.

"We must take seriously the historical fact that numerous Ainu people were discriminated against and impoverished as Japan underwent modernisation," it reads.