Scientific fact that the Ainu are not an indigenous people of a different ethnic group but the same as the Japanese people
In May 2019, a joint study team composed of the National Museum of Nature and Science, the University of Tokyo, Kanazawa University and others made an important announcement: “The Ainu people have 70% of the nuclear DNA of the Jomon people[a1] [q2] .”[i] This is a fact, scientifically demonstrated; the Ainu are infallibly descendants of the ancient Japanese Jomon people, who have lived in Hokkaido since the Jomon period. Therefore, the assertion that the Ainu are a northern people who came to settle in Hokkaido from the Middle Ages onwards has been proven to be entirely false.
Furthermore, in the contents of study of “Human history of East Eurasia revealed by the genome analysis of the Jomon people,” it is stated that Honshu Jomon IK002 (female Jomon skeleton unearthed at Ikawatsu kaizuka (shell mound) in Aichi Prefecture) is included in Ainu cluster (or group). This result agrees with the analysis of the entire genome of Hokkaido Ainu people and shows that it is highly probable that the Ainu people are the oldest inhabitants of the Japanese archipelago and at the same time a direct descendant of the first group of East Eurasians.[ii]
In addition, the announcement from the University of Tokyo states, “The genome of the Jomon IK002 is an old group that can be said to be rooted in East Eurasian and the southern route [of migration], hardly affected by the northern route [of migration].” In other words, the Jomon people (including those would be later called “Ainu”) are a people who originated from the southern route. This challenges the assertion made by Japanese archeologists that “the Ainu are a northern people”.
What these facts tell us is that the Ainu people are descendants of the Jomon people who lived in Hokkaido since the Jomon period and that they mostly originated from people who migrated from the south, not the north, and very probably those who migrated to the continent mixed with East Eurasians.
Russia’s move, Putin’s assertion and internal left-wing power play
In Russia, however, assertions not based on science have been made. In December 2018, it was reported that Russia’s President Putin intended to acknowledge the Ainu people as indigenous Russians.[iii] Furthermore, in April 2022, vice-chairman of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, Sergei Mironov reportedly stated, “According to certain experts, Russia owns all rights in Hokkaido.”[iv]
Also in April 2022, “According to Regunam News [Russian web-media], political scientist Sergei Chernyakhovsky maintained that ‘Tokyo [the Japanese Government] improperly retains Hokkaido, which was politically Russian territory.’[v] Referring to the assertion made in the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Russia concluded in 1855, the report stated: “There [in Hokkaido] the Ainu people lived. They are the same people that live in Sakhalin, in the suburbs of Vladivostok and in the south of the Kamchatka Peninsula and are one of the peoples of Russia.”
Let us put President Putin’s assertion in the current context. In September 2022, he stated a new diplomatic policy, called “Russia’s World” and stipulated that Russia will intervene in countries in support of Russian inhabitants.[vi] And according to another report, Russia planned to militarily intervene in Hokkaido before it invaded Ukraine.[vii]
In response to these Russian intentions, in Japan, there was some leftists called up on Putin for assistance. In January 2019, a group calling themselves Moshirikoru Kamui no Kai (its representative director Hatakeyama Satoshi, Ishi Pompei as vice director) issued a “written request to President Vladimir Putin.”[viii] In this request, they asked President Putin to consider “inclusive security management” of the Shiretoko Peninsula [Hokkaido], in addition to making the Kuril Islands [or Chishima Retto] an Ainu autonomous zone. It sounds as if this group was gladly offering Hokkaido to Putin.
Japanese conservative journalists and the Japanese Government’s confusion of the Ainu invites crisis
Unfortunately, the thinking that the Ainu are a “northern” people is not monopolized by Russians and Japanese leftists. In fact, many Japanese conservative journalists also believe this. The most radical among them is Mr. Matoba Mitsuaki. In 2019, Mr. Matoba stated in his book: “Mr. Shinoda [Shinoda Kenichi, director of the National Museum of Nature and Science] concluded that modern Ainu people, influenced by people of the Okhotsk ethnic group turned out to be genetically related to indigenous Siberians. This turns out to be perfectly consistent with the archaeological study reports so far, without the least contradiction.”[ix] Moreover, elsewhere, he stated, “The Ainu are not the descendants of the Jomon people.”
Matoba’s assertion coincides exactly with what President Putin stated. This assertion was made despite his knowledge of many recent studies of ancient DNA. Mr. Matoba lives in Hokkaido and is considered as a conservative Hokkaido journalist. In other words, a conservative journalist in Hokkaido and a Japanese leftist group share the same thinking, that “the Ainu are a northern people.” This is more than Putin could have asked for.
Moreover, the Japanese Government’s view of the issue will invite further misunderstanding. For instance, regarding “measures related to the Ainu in the website of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism, “In view of history from the end of the Middle Ages onwards, the Ainu people are considered to have indigenously lived with relation to ‘Wa-jin [ancient Japanese people]’ at that time.” This passage invites the misunderstanding that the Ainu are not Japanese. The government’s account is based a report from the “Advisory Panel of Experts on Measures to be Taken for Utari [brethren or fellow countrymen]” issued April, 1996, over a quarter century ago.[x]
In addition, a “Resolution to Decide That The Ainu Are An Indigenous People,” adopted by regular sessions of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors, simultaneously in June 2008, used the same wordings and stated that the Ainu are an indigenous people who inhabited the northern part of the Japanese archipelago, particularly Hokkaido, and that they are an indigenous people having their own language, religion and culture.
That “the Ainu are a northern people, different from the Japanese people” which is held to be true by many scholars is groundless yet this assertion was backed by the Government of Japan and by both Houses of the Diet.
To not make Hokkaido a second Ukraine
Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in the name of protecting Russians. It was nothing but a unilateral accusation, totally ignoring historical facts, the actual situation and the assertion on the part of the other. In other words, without considering the views of other countries, Russia will invade other countries if the cause is to protect its own people (even if it is contorted or false).
Russia made up the pretext, that “the Ainu are Russian”, and began to outrageously state that “sovereignty over Hokkaido belongs to Russia.” If such a ridiculous assertion becomes acceptable within Russia, Russia will start to assert its sovereignty over Hokkaido. Should this become a reality, an invasion of Hokkaido would be as sure as an invasion of Ukraine.
This time, I used genetics to show the commonality of the Ainu and the Japanese. I will add that there is much more evidence to prove that the Ainu are descendants of the Jomon people.
Under this grave situation in which dangerous statements are made lies the Japanese Government’s ambiguous Ainu policy. The Japanese Government must correct its past mistake which ignored the science. Instead, the Japanese Government must recognize the Ainu based on the science. The government should never acknowledge diversity for its own sake. The Japanese Government should recognize the Ainu as Japanese people.
[i] “The origin of the Jomon people consecutively revealed through genes—the Jomon people’s highly accurate genomes successfully obtained.” Independent Administrative Agency National Museum of Nature and Science, May 13, 2019.
[ii] “Human history of East Eurasia revealed through the analysis of the Jomon people’s genomes.” The University of Tokyo, the graduate school of the University of Tokyo, Kanazawa University, August 25, 2020.
[iii] “The Ainu people are Russia’s indigenous people,” Hokkaido Newspaper, morning edition, December 19, 2018.
[iv] “Owning rights in Hokkaido, Russian political world aims to check Japan’s movement.” Jiji.Com, April 9, 2022
[v]“‘Hokkaido’s rights belong to Russia’, Russian Parliament member claims amid the confusion caused by the war. On what grounds?” J-Cast News, April 7, 2022.
[vi] “President Putin approves a new diplomatic policy, emphasizes support of “comrades” living overseas.” Newsweek, Japan edition, September 6, 2022.
[vii] “Russia prepared to attack not Ukraine but Japan. The Newsweek obtained email of a betrayer within FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation). Newsweek, Japan, November 25. 2022.
[viii]“Written Request Addressed to President Vladimir Putin,” Moshirikor Kamui no Kai Society, January 11, 2019.
[ix] “Scientific denial of the theory that the Ainu are an indigenous people,” written by Matoba Mitsuaki, published by Matoba Mitsuaki Office, November 1, 2019, first edition, pp.224-225.
[x] The “Advisory Panel of Experts on Measures to be taken for Utari (meaning brethren, fellow countrymen)” chaired by Ito Masami, professor emeritus, the University of Tokyo, April 1, 1996,
[a1]Paper from this group says “arctic” and not Jomon, Can you check again?
[q2]The paper says “Jomon” not arctic.