About Upopoy

Background and Mission

Efforts to promote Ainu culture and raise public awareness are facing several challenges. The existence of the Ainu language and traditional crafts is in crisis as the number of people able to pass on these traditions declines, while levels of understanding regarding Ainu history and culture remain low. To counter this, the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion (chaired by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary) stated in July 2009 that a “symbolic space for ethnic harmony” was key to a policy based on the recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people. Upopoy is not only a space and facility for revitalizing Ainu culture, but also a base for larger initiatives to revitalize and expand the Ainu culture, which is an invaluable culture in Japan but remains under threat. Upopoy is a symbol of the building of a forward-looking, vibrant society with a rich, diverse culture in which indigenous people are treated with respect and dignity, without discrimination.

Functions

As a national center for learning about and promoting Ainu history and culture, Upopoy enables people of all nationalities and ages to learn about the Ainu’s worldview and respect for nature. It also acts as a symbol of a society based on mutual respect and coexistence, passing on and sharing various aspects of Ainu culture, which has developed over many years and is influenced by the surrounding nature.

Functions of Upopoy

1. Research and exhibitions
2. Continuation of cultural traditions and development of human skills
3. Exchange of culture and experiences
4. Dissemination of information
5. Provision of park facilities
6. Fostering of respect for spirituality

History

September 2007The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is adopted by the General Assembly, including Japan.
June 2008Both houses of the National Diet of Japan unanimously adopt a resolution recognizing the Ainu as an indigenous people.
July 2009The final report from the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion proposes the development of a “symbolic space for ethnic harmony”.
June 2014A Basic Policy for Development, Management and Operation of a Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony is established by the cabinet. It is decided that this symbolic space will be created in Shiraoi Town in the Shiraoi District of Hokkaido.
June 2017The Basic Policy for Development, Management and Operation of a Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony is partially revised by cabinet decision.
The Ainu Culture Promotion / Research Foundation is nominated as the management body.
April 2018The Ainu Culture Promotion / Research Foundation and Ainu Museum Foundation merge under the name Foundation for Ainu Culture.
December 2018Upopoy is chosen as the name for the symbolic space for ethnic harmony following a national poll.

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