Ainu Identity and the Meiji State

David L. Howell

in Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520240858
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930872 | DOI:
Ainu Identity and the Meiji State

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Policy toward the Ainu during the Meiji period reflected the state's dual program of bringing peripheral peoples within the polity as Japanese nationals while at the same time attacking those elements of Ainu society and economy deemed incompatible with their eventual participation in the nation as civilized moderns. The Ainu became increasingly vulnerable during the Meiji period. The Welfare Policy for Former Aborigines within Nemuro Prefecture sought to promote family and communal farming among the Ainu, with improving education a secondary objective. The Meiji state conducted an aggressive and extremely disruptive experiment in social engineering on the Sakhalin and Kuril Ainu. It is shown that although the policies implemented in both cases were similar, the response of the Ainu differed in a number of important respects. The Japanese government's policies did great violence to Ainu culture and without question weakened Ainu ethnic identity.

Keywords: Sakhalin Ainu; Kuril Ainu; ethnic identity; Meiji; communal farming; social engineering; Ainu society; Ainu economy

Chapter.  10718 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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