Japan: Violation of human rights of indigenous peoples of Ryukyus in Okinawa

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Written statement* submitted by the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), a non-governmental organization in special consultative status

The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.

Introduction

Okinawa, which was Former Ryukyu Kingdom, is the southernmost prefecture of Japan with the population of about 1,400,000, most of them Ryukyuans, the indigenous peoples in Ryukyu Islands. Ryukyu Kingdom, which Ryukyuans had founded, was colonized by Japan in 1872, and renamed as “Okinawa prefecture” in 1879, in violation of Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article 51.

While Japanese government has enforced assimilation policy on Ryukyuans, Ryukyuans have been facing discrimination as another ethnic group. However, the Japanese government has never accepted Ryukyuans as indigenous peoples, but been holding the view that they are Japanese in contradiction to the opinions of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.1

Issues of Iigunkuba2 islands

Iigunkuba Islands, also called Senkaku Islands in Japanese or Diaoyu Islands in Chinese, were a part of the territory of Ryukyu Kingdom. While Japan, Taiwan and China are claiming their ownership of the islands, all these governments have been ignoring the rights of Ryukyuans to their territory enshrined in the Articles 25, 26, 27, and 28 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).


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