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Japan will recognize the country's ethnic Ainu group as an "indigenous" people for the first time. Ainu people campaigned for decades for this. The Ainu are an indigenous people from the northern island of Hokkaido and islands between Japan and Russia. Their official number is around 25,000, but people say there are around 200,000. Many Ainu have been completely absorbed into Japanese society. They have little knowledge of their history.
Japan Today wrote about the Ainu's hardships. It said they, "have long suffered the effects of a policy of forced assimilation, and while discrimination has [lessened] gradually, income and education gaps with the rest of Japan persist". Japan said it wants to, "protect the honor and dignity of the Ainu...to realize a vibrant society". An Ainu spokesman said: "It feels like we woke up...from a truly deep sleep...We think this is the first step."
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