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The process of internationalisation is exerting pressure on governments around the world to recognise the rights of their indigenous peoples. This article investigates the current legal framework for minority language protection in Japan, where a history of assimilation has threatened the ancestral language and culture of the Ainu minority. The situation in Japan is contextualised within a broader discussion of minority language protection at global and European level in order to better understand the political environment in which a shift in policy for the protection of minority languages has begun. Although the implementation of a new law to promote Ainu culture has led to limited benefits for the Ainu, the fact that Japan continues to deny that the Ainu were colonised and dispossessed of resources acts as a barrier to reconciliation and a way forward. Findings indicate that the processes of internationalisation are conducive to increased international cooperation to promote consensus, greater social inclusion and more opportunity for minorities to participate in political structures. A further significant finding is that an acceptance of diversity and local autonomy can lead to an assurance of human rights.


Thomas More Law School

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Journal Article

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