There was a special lecture given in the International Relations class within the IR Course. This time the guest lecturer was Mr. Sekine Kenji who is the vice curator at the Nibutani Ainu Cultural Museum located in Biratori Cho. Mr. Sekine teaches the Ainu language to elementary school students, and is also in charge of an Ainu language radio program. This lecture focused on the Ainu language as well on the current situation of the Ainu people as well as the Maori of New Zealand.
It was most striking for me to learn that there are almost no native speakers of the Ainu language. I learned the harsh reality that Ainu language and culture are not taught to students because of the immense prejudice and discrimination they faced. If Japanese across the country understood this then maybe they would have the understanding that it is important to have an interest in the Ainu culture and language, and that might lead to an increase in people who can speak Ainu.
Up until now I didn’t have much understanding about the Ainu culture or language, but recently I learned the current situation of the Ainu and the challenges they face. I felt that this was a great chance for me to learn this. I learned for myself that there are very few speakers of Ainu language but that we need to preserve the language and speak about the importance of the language. Therefore, through Mr. Sekine’s lecture I could feel his passion towards the Ainu language, and that I, as a native Hokkaido person, need to feel a stronger connection to the Ainu language and culture so this was a great experience for me.