アイヌ・先住民研究センターの特徴やスタッフなどを紹介します

Message from the Director

Concrete, steady progress toward a society of ethnic harmony

Director / Teruki Tsunemoto

Director / Teruki Tsunemoto

In April 2007, the Hokkaido University Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies (CAIS) was established as Japan’s only national research institution specializing in studies on Ainu and other indigenous peoples. It has since made concrete, steady progress to strengthen its academic work as well as using research findings to help improve the social status of Ainu people and create a society based on ethnic harmony in Japan. Public interest in the Ainu community was stirred by the United Nations General Assembly’s September 2007 adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Japanese Diet’s 2008 passage of a resolution that urged the government to officially recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people. Against this background, the Center’s reputation grew, and the number of full-time faculty members (which initially stood at just one) had increased to six by 2010. Members at the Center work to fulfill its mission as a research establishment leading the nation’s studies on Ainu and other indigenous peoples in conjunction with 12 part-time faculty members from HU’s graduate schools and research faculties.

Interdisciplinary/international activity, emphasis on social contribution, and collaboration with the Ainu community

Interdisciplinary/international activity, emphasis on social contribution, and collaboration with the Ainu communityThe first characteristic of the Center relates to its interdisciplinary and international approaches. Although emphasis should naturally be placed on disciplines that have played pivotal roles in Japanese ethnic studies (such as cultural anthropology, history, archaeology and linguistics), the facility also has experts in other fields including those of law, political science, sociology and tourism, acting as full-time professors or part-time faculty members. This leverages the Center’s position as a research institution among a premier assembly of colleges toward the pursuit of indispensable interdisciplinary research for comprehensive ethnic studies. International symposiums are also held and joint research projects are implemented based on a close research network involving institutions in the USA, Canada, Russia, northern Europe, Taiwan, New Zealand and other countries/regions with a variety of experience and achievements in indigenous studies.

The second characteristic of the Center relates to its emphasis on the achievement of social contribution by sharing research findings with the public. This is a matter of course in light of the facility’s study of events involving Ainu people and the paramount importance of the role they play in these studies. Staff at the Center engage in activities to help the Ainu community develop and to preserve their unique ethnic culture, support related human resource development programs run by universities and museums, and collaborate with national and regional government initiatives to plan and examine Ainu policies, all while paying attention to the facility’s integrity as a research institution.

The third and most important characteristic relates to the Center’s basic policy of collaboration with Ainu people both in research and in administration. The Center has established a close partnership with the Ainu Association of Hokkaido (the largest Ainu organization in Japan), and also place importance on partnerships with Ainu people not represented by the Association (including those living outside Hokkaido) in promoting the Center’s activities. This policy of collaboration with the Ainu community involves inviting Ainu people to join the Center’s operations, as well as identifying and developing research targets and projects through discussions with Ainu individuals.

A further characteristic is the Center’s emphasis on education despite its technical designation as a research center. Specifically, the facility runs courses led by full-time professors to help HU students – the future leaders of Hokkaido and Japan – to develop an interest in Ainu and other indigenous peoples around the world and to gain an accurate understanding of them. It also hosts a variety of public lectures and symposiums so that Ainu people and other residents can learn about the latest research findings. The Center additionally runs a well-structured three-month course of public introductory lectures free of charge, and provides visiting lectures for people living outside Sapporo. Through these activities, the establishment aspires to create chances to learn with Ainu people (who previously had insufficient opportunity to find out about their own ethnic culture and history) and move forward, and also aims to maximize public understanding of Ainu people in order to enhance their social status.

Striving to create a society in which Ainu people can live proudly

Striving to create a society in which Ainu people can live proudlyIt is a matter of historical record that Hokkaido University began at the vanguard of the Japanese government’s policy of colonization in the late 19th century. Indeed, during its history, the university’s stance on Ainu people has been called into question. We believe it is an obligation to bear this unfortunate past in mind and work to enable Ainu and non-Ainu people – both essential parts of Japanese society – to understand and support each other. Although progress may sometimes seem slow, we would like to continue to produce changes steadily as clearly shown on our campus: only a few years ago, no Ainu people were seen, but today they are seen dropping in at the Center and coming and going to attend lectures. We remain committed to our ongoing efforts to create a society in which Ainu people can live with pride.

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