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  • Akiko

Ainu as political issue

Today I found a news that an individual in Shenzhen, China filed registration of trademark of the word "Ainu" to Japan's Patent office. It is calling about one of Japanese minority originally lived in north Japan, Hokkaidō, Chishima islands, Sakhaline.

There are/were numbers of minorities in Japan such as Ainu, Tungusic Ouilta, Nivkh who are totally different from Ouilta or Ainu. In kagura repertory or mythe, we can find several ethnic groups which are not so-called Japanese.

These years, Ainu is becoming a hot issue thanks to the comic, Golden Kamui.

This year, National Ainu Museum and Park (Upopoy) will be opened. (In sanitary reason of Covid-19, it was postponed last month.)

I guess the trademark registration of Ainu can bring us a lot of money. Traditional culture are always political and commercial issue. I prefer not to affirm my personal opinion. Many foreign tourists visite to Hokkaido.

Certain generation of Japanese folklorists tend to prefer to find values of folkloric performing arts as something artistic expression.

The registration of Ainu reveals as ignored aspects of this political issue. As often, Ainu issue is almost taboo. Nobody asks if someone is Ainu as long as the person tells us. As a consequence that it is taboo, I see Ainu issue or other Japanese tradition became like sacred treasure thanks to good branding. It is, indeed. However, we may miss essential of Ainu issue in this way. Difference makes commodity value. Tradition is always commercial issue no matter which ethnic group we are talking about.

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