September 6, 2011

Varied Reactions to Emperor's Scheduled Visit to Hokkaido

A news item from last month indicates that the current emperor and empress of Japan will be travelling to Hokkaido on September 9th for several days, and among their itinerary is a visit to the Ainu Museum in Shiraoi on September 11th.

(For details see the article from Muroran Minpo News here - in Japanese only.)

According to the article, the Representative Director of the Museum Katsunobu Nomoto stated that "It is a great honor. We are grateful that they expressed an interest in Ainu culture. All of us employees will do our sincere best for them to view the traditional dances that have been passed down to the present and also the displays in the museum."

Given the history of the emperor as the symbol of Japanese imperialism and the subjugation of the Ainu people under such auspices, there are some who are protesting the visit, organizing a discussion demanding the emperor and empress not to come and voicing the opposition against the emperor system.

(For details regarding the protest discussion meeting to be held on September 9 in Sapporo, see here - in Japanese only).

Some right-wing politicians and activists on the other hand, are expressing concern that the visit will be "politicized" by representatives of the Ainu Association, who they believe are seeking to "destroy the country" by demanding indigenous rights.

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