Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ainu Political Party launch: Reports from Ainu Mosir & Aotearoa

The Ainu Party of Japan (homepage here) was launched last weekend in Ebetsu City, Ainu Mosir (Hokkaido), marking a historical moment for Japan, the Ainu, and indigenous peoples all over the world. This is the first time an ethnic minority group has ever created a political party of its own in Japan.

Maori Party representative and member of the New Zealand Parliament since 2005 Te Ururoa Flavell and his wife Erana Hond-Flavell, a research associate at Te Kōpae Piripono (Center of Innovation) in Te Tāhuhu o Te Mātauranga (Aotearoa/New Zealand Board of Education) joined Ainu Party supporters in their Saturday, January 21st celebrations.

The day of the launch commenced with an Ainu ceremony held outside the snow-covered Ebestu City Community Center. Representative Flavell presented a Taiaha, a traditional Maori weapon to the Ainu Party.

While reports of the new party in English and Japanese are scarce, Maori news sources have been reporting extensively on the groundbreaking launch.

Co-leaders of the Maori Party, Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turi, made a statement in support of the party:
The Maori Party congratulates the Ainu community for their determination to take their policy priorities and concerns into the political landscape in Japan.

We are delighted to acknowledge Shiro Kayano, the leader of the Ainu Party, and to extend our best wishes for their launch on the 21st January.

The recognition of the voices of the Ainu community has achieved momentum in Japan through the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee to investigate the rights of the Ainu, headed by former Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama.

Our seven years experience in the Maori Party has confirmed how important it is to create the space for the voices of tangata whenua in national and local politics. Our mission has always been to ensure that ‘every issue is a Maori issue’; and that ultimately we know that what works for Maori, is in the best interests also of Aotearoa.

We join with other indigenous political movements across the globe, to welcome the formation of the Ainu Party, and to extend greetings of solidarity to the wider Ainu community in their determination to make a significant contribution to the political destiny of their land.
- Jen Teeter

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