UCLA History Ainu People Discussion


Put yourself in the shoes of an Ainu person who lived through the extension of the boundaries of the old Tokugawa regime to include your ancestral homelands. How might your life change on an everyday level? How might you respond, either individually or collectively to this imposition of colonial rule over you?***As a general rule of thumb, this medium post should be no longer than 500❗ words. ❗ ❗ Please make sure to address the Meiji regime’s nation-building policies as expressed in the readings and lectures❗ ❗Think about how Ainu people would have experienced the imposition of settler-colonial policies on their lands. What aspects of their lives would have changed immediately? Which would not? The last question about how you might respond to these changes is a speculative one — given the options at your disposal and your own proclivities, how might you decide to respond and why? When you reference primary documents like the Meiji era unification documents or the Former Natives Protection Law, please be as specific as possible and use quotes from the texts as much as possible. When you reference secondary documents like Fujitani or Komori, please make sure to provide attribution in some way: you can either say something like: “As Fujitani argues on p. XX, the imperial progress were designed to establish national unity through the emperor…”
NOTE:Read: “Collection of Swords, 1588” “Edict on Change of Status, 1591,” “Control of Daimyo, 1595” and “Expulsion of Missionaries, 1587” (Find all under Lu Unification)Read: “Iwakura Mission of 1871,” Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, chapter 2.Read: “Excerpts from the Document on the Form of Government (Seitaisho), 1868” “Five Notice Boards, April 6 1868,” “Memorial on the Return of Feudal Domains and Census Registers, March 5 1869,” “Opinion on Military Affairs and Conscription, 1872” (Find under Lu, Meiji Restoration)Read: Komori Yoichi, “Rule in the Name of ‘Protection’: The Vocabulary of Colonialism” and “Hokkaido Former Natives Protection Law (Law №27, March 1, 1899) both in Reading Colonial Japan. Also read Fukuzawa Yukichi, “Goodbye Asia, 1885”

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Volume 11 | Issue 8 | Number 2 | Feb 2013
The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus
Rule in the Name of Protection: The Japanese State, the Ainu and the
Vocabulary of Colonialism 「保護」という名の支配ー植民地主義のボキャ
Komori Yoichi, Helen J.S. Lee, Michele Mason
height of its empire controlled a vast area of Asia
and numerous archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean.
Its reach extended from Sakhalin Island north of
the Japanese archipelago to the Solomon Islands
in the South Pacific and expanded into
Manchuria, areas of China, Korea, and much of
Southeast Asia and Micronesia. Over the more
than seven decades of Japanese colonial rule
(1869-1945), Japan successfully naturalized two
colonies (Ainu Moshir/Hokkaido and the
Ryukyu Kingdom/Okinawa) into its national
territory. The massive extraction of resources and
extensive cultural assimilation policies radically
impacted the lives of millions of Asians and
Pacific Islanders. The political, economic, and
cultural ramifications of this era are still felt
Translation by Michele M. Mason
Introduction to and Selection from Reading
Colonial Japan: Text, Context, and Critique
Michele M. Mason and Helen J.S. Lee
By any measure, Japan’s modern empire was
formidable. The only major non-Western colonial
power in the twentieth century, Japan at the
11 | 8 | 2
Reading Colonial Japan aims to further deepen
knowledge of Japanese colonialism(s), providing
both an eclectic selection of translated Japanese
primary sources and analytical essays that
illuminate the specificities of Japan’s many and
varied colonial projects. The primary documents,
which span a variety of genres, serve to highlight
the centrality of cultural production and
dissemination to colonial endeavors and to
accentuate the myriad ways colonialism
permeated every facet of life. In the essays, the
contributors are primarily concerned with
representation and rhetoric and how these
intersect with operations of power. They
investigate the workings of imperialist discourse
through close readings of cultural
representations in colonial narratives and
imagery, revealing how the Japanese imperial
project was understood, imagined, and lived. The
contributing scholars take as a premise that
colonialism is not simply a military quest, legal
process, or government-led project. Rather, it is a
complex cultural system, both in the formulation
of underpinning ideology and the execution of
policies backed by those ideological beliefs. In
addition to forming economic and political
structures, colonial powers enlist the
participation of various institutions, educational
processes, and publication networks, which
produce “knowledge” that rationalizes the
colonial order. By making available and
analyzing a wide range of sources that represent
“media” during the Japanese colonial period, we
engage in a dialogue with scholarship in cultural
studies and highlight the powerful role that
language and imagination play in producing the
material realities of Japanese colonialism.
especially when backed by overwhelming
military force and economic privileges, there
always exist inherent contradictions, competing
ideologies, and intersecting subjectivities. As the
resistance movements in Taiwan and Korea
suggest, not everyone was convinced of the
“benevolence” of the Japanese imperial project.
The experiences of a collaborating colonial elite
in Korea, a Chinese “coolie” in Manchuria, an
Okinawan police officer, or a Japanese female
settler differed greatly as any individual’s place
within a group, and the empire was determined
by a number of shifting, and not infrequently
incompatible, factors. In fact, one of the most
laborious tasks of colonial authorities was to
police various levels of slippage that potentially
undermined the order of the empire.
That said, no colonial project succeeds without
substantial support from its citizenry. In fact,
cultural production by a broad spectrum of
“ordinary” Japanese citizens—for instance, a
housewife in Manchuria, settlers in Korea, manga
artists and fiction writers in mainland
Japan—functioned effectively to reinforce the
official political, economic, and cultural policies
that controlled and violated the lives of the
colonized throughout Japan’s empire. Whether
individual Japanese actively promoted the
imperial project or quietly acquiesced to its
demands, they were, to varying degrees,
complicit with imperial ideology. Although a
young man volunteering for the army might
have been a conspicuous expression of loyalty to
the imperial state, the works featured in Reading
Colonial Japan show that no one was precluded
from participating in the promotion and
maintenance of the colonial campaign. Women,
for instance, published “memoirs” that mobilized
colonial rhetoric and their promotion of state
policies in locally published cookbooks served
imperial causes in significant ways well beyond
the restricted domestic sphere of the home.
Likewise, children’s manga, such as the
Adventures of Dankichi, reveal both unsettling
manifestations of racialized colonial justifications
Serving as the mainstay of the theoretical
framework of Reading Colonial Japan are the
following two premises: that colonial discourse
never marshals a totalizing persuasive power
and that colonial powers do not exert their
authority through a single, cohesive, and
consistent ideology. As formidable as is the
ideological capacity to determine reality,
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and the unapologetic recruitment of Japanese
children’s imaginary world and minds. In fact,
every mode of expression was mobilized to
further the colonial agenda. If laws such as the
“Hokkaido Former Natives Protection Law”
dramatically impinged on and restricted the lives
of the colonized, a variety of fictional works
justified unequal power relations between Japan
and its many colonial entities. Be it depictions of
the naturescape in Hokkaido that erased the
existence of the island’s indigenous population,
or the “retelling” of a violent legend of
Taiwanese “barbarians,” literary depictions of
the Other joined forces with official arguments to
shore up a colonial world order. Many Japanese
citizens from all walks of life consumed,
accepted, and reiterated the implicit and explicit
messages of such texts, thereby participating in
the imperial project in the most mundane, yet
indispensible, ways.
bokyaburarii, 1997) illuminates the juridical
implementation of the Japanese state’s
expansionist aspirations in Hokkaido through a
close analysis of the vocabulary and tone in the
Hokkaido Former Natives Protection Law. This
regulation was ostensibly drafted to stabilize the
lives of Ainu, who had lost their means of
livelihood because of incursions into their
homelands by Japanese colonizers. The law
endorsed individual land grants and the
adoption of Japanese agricultural practices as the
best means to rescue Ainu from poverty. For
those Ainu who complied there were also
provisions for medical treatment and education
for children. It might be better understood,
however, as a program of forced assimilation,
which worked in tandem with other laws to
undermine the ability of Ainu communities to
support themselves in traditional ways and to
suppress their language, history, and cultural
Below we showcase a translated essay by Komori
Yoichi, professor of Japanese literature at the
University of Tokyo, which is paired with a
translation of the Hokkaido Former Natives
Protection Law (Hokkaido kyudojin hogo ho,
1899). Komori is a prolific and dynamic scholar
of literature, who frequently ventures far beyond
the normal confines of the field. He is sometimes
considered an institutional and intellectual
outsider, due to having received his Ph.D. from
Hokkaido University, his sharp criticism of
political, economic, and social injustice, and his
on-going activism against changing Article 9 of
the Japanese constitution. While Komori is
famous for his trenchant readings of canonical
writers, such as Higuchi Ichiyo, Natsume Soseki,
and Miyazawa Kenji, he is also firmly grounded
in a school of literary studies that is committed to
providing historical contextualization and
understanding the power of language to
determine and shape history.
This work by Komori is significant as an early,
and still rare, example of scholarship that clearly
recognizes Hokkaido as a modern Japanese
colony. His liberal use of scare quotes in the
original chapter functions to disrupt
conventional meanings, emphasize the power of
naming, and highlight how words determine and
obfuscate reality and history. In order to improve
readability, we have eliminated some of the scare
quotes in the translation after a term has been
sufficiently established as deserving critical
This introduction and text are adapted from:
=theasipacjo0b-20) edited by Michele Mason and
Helen Lee
Copyright (c)2012 by the Board of Trustees of the
Leland Stanford Jr. University Reprinted by
permission from the publisher, www.sup.org
Komori’s essay, entitled “Rule in the Name of
‘Protection’: The Vocabulary of Colonialism”
(“Hogo” toiu na no shihai: shokuminchishugi no
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“Protection”: The Vocabulary
of Colonialism1
Michele M. Mason is assistant professor of
Japanese literature at the University of Maryland,
College Park. Her research and teaching interests
include modern Japanese literature and history,
colonial and postcolonial studies, gender and
feminist studies, masculinity studies, and the
history and literature of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. She is the author of Dominant
Narratives of Colonial Hokkaido and Imperial
Japan: Envisioning the Periphery and the
0b-20). Mason is the co-producer and interpreter
for the short documentary film Witness to
Hiroshima (2010). Her publications include
“Writing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the 21 st
Century: A New Generation of Manga” (The Asia
Pacific Journal, 2009), and “Empowering the
Would-be Warrior: Bushido and the Gendered
Bodies of the Japanese Nation” (Recreating
Japanese Men, 2011).
Komori Yōichi
Translation by Michele M. Mason
Two “Protection Laws”
Building on the Emigrant Protection
Regulation of April 12, 1894
(Ordinance No. 42), the Emigrant
Protection Law (Law No. 70) was
enacted on April 7, 1896. Then, the
Hokkaido Former Natives
Protection Law (Law No. 27) was
officially announced on March 1,
1899. This law, which had been
presented as a governmentsponsored proposal in the preceding
year, was based on the Hokkaido
Natives Protection Law Proposal
submitted by Diet members Chiba
Tanehide and Suzuki Mitsuyoshi in
1895. This article aims to interrogate
why these “protection laws” were
enacted like bookends on the SinoJapanese War (1894-1895) and what
precise kind of act the word
“protection” denotes.
Helen J.S. Lee is assistant professor of Japanese
studies at the Underwood International College,
Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. Her research
focuses on Japanese settlers in colonial Korea,
and her projects employ the popular media, such
as satiric poetry (senryu), travel narratives, and
cartoons to investigate the race relations between
Japanese and Koreans in the colonial context. Her
publications include “Voices of the “Colonists,”
Voices of the “Immigrants”: “Korea” in Japan’s
Early Colonial Travel Narratives and Guides,
1894-1914” (Japanese Language and Literature,
2007), “Writing Colonial Relations of Everyday
Life in Senryu” (positions: east asia cultures
critique, 2008), and “Dying as Daughter of the
Empire” (positions: east asia cultures critique,
To begin, there is one place in the
Emigrant Protection Law where the
word “protection” is clearly used.
Article 4 of the law reads, “To
protect emigrants, maintain public
order, or when deemed necessary
for diplomatic purposes, the
government may prohibit emigrant
voyages or revoke permission to
take such voyages” (italics added).
Moreover, Article 1 of the Emigrant
Protection Regulation states, “By
this decree the definition of
emigrant is a person who for the
purposes of labor travels abroad,
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and the term emigrant agents
designates those people whose
occupation it is to run agencies that
recruit emigrants and arrange for
the emigrants’ travel abroad
regardless of what they are called.”
In a similar fashion, the Emigrant
Protection Law sought to supervise
the relationship between “emigrant
agents” and “emigrants” through
the licensing of national
“administrative” agencies. That is to
say that the principal objective of
this protection law was to “protect”
emigrants from emigrant agents
whose aim was commercial gain.
emigrants and even more so
between the nation called “Japan”
and the countries to which the
emigrants traveled.
The crux of the trouble becomes
evident from matters prohibited by
the law. The aims of the regulations
included preventing people from
traveling abroad without
government permission, attempting
to gain permission by lying about
one’s destination, conducting the
business of emigrant services
without governmental permission,
and “recruiting emigrants by means
of deception.” What we must
remain cautious about is the seventh
article of the Emigrant Protection
Law wherein it is stipulated that
“only imperial subjects and,
alternatively, commercial companies
that conduct the main part of their
business within the imperial nation
and whose stockholders or
employees are solely imperial
subjects can be considered ‘emigrant
agents or agencies.’” First, we
understand that emigrant services
were chiefly conducted by
commercial companies, and, thus,
an era arrived when humans as
labor commodities, in the form of
emigrants, became the objects of
commerce in the same way things
become goods.
“Emigrant services” emerged as a
particular industry, and the reason
the state could ill afford to ignore it
concerned the rapidly increasing
numbers of “emigrants” at the time.
For instance, comparing the
numbers of Japanese residing in
foreign countries in 1885 and in 1895
reveals a dramatic jump; in the
United States the number of
Japanese rose by almost 5,000, from
1,090 to 6,156 persons, in Hawai‘i by
21,000 Japanese, from 1,949 to 23,102
persons, and in by Korea 8,000,
starting at 4,521 and reaching 12,303
persons. Then, during the five years
between 1896 and 1900, the United
States suddenly saw an increase of
26,000 Japanese, in Hawai‘i an
increase of 34,000, in Korea 3,000,
and in China 3,000, which amounts
to a precipitous growth exceeding
the preceding ten years. After the
Sino-Japanese War, Japan was
facing a true overseas “emigration
era.” Consequently, the emigrant
service industry came into being,
and numerous problems emerged
between emigrant agents and
However, we also notice an
excessive insistence on the issue of
the interior of the “imperial nation.”
The important point is that
commercial companies permitted to
undertake emigrant services had to
be managed by imperial subjects
only. Companies that were involved
with foreigners or foreign capital
11 | 8 | 2
were denied emigrant service status.
Here, the memory of one incident
involving emigrants, which
occurred at the beginning of the
Meiji era, must have had an impact.
In 1868, 148 Japanese were
transported to what was at that time
the Kingdom of Hawai‘i by an
American consul general, Eugene
Van Reed. In the Kingdom of
Hawai‘i there were vast fields of
sugarcane, and toward the middle
of the nineteenth century the
technological innovations in sugar
production suddenly made
advances, necessitating a massive
labor force of obedient farm
workers. These Japanese, really
labor commodities, were taken to
Hawai‘i in a manner equal to the
slave trade. The Japanese
government, angered by this, called
off all emigration to Hawai‘i, a ban
that would last for seventeen years,
until 1885. When Walter Murray
Gibson, who had been appointed
premier in Hawai‘i in 1882,
petitioned to the Meiji emperor to
reopen Japanese immigration to
Hawai‘i, the offer was accepted, and
the first group of governmentcontracted emigrants was sent in
February of 1885. By 1894, when the
26th group arrived, close to 30,000
Japanese had crossed over to
the nation of Japan, and who until
that point had been forbidden to go
abroad, left, favoring Hawai‘i and
California. The Republic of Hawai‘i
was established in 1894 because of
an intervention carried out by the
combined efforts of U.S. ministers
and pro-American forces the
preceding year. From this year on,
the Japanese system of governmentcontracted emigration was
abolished and replaced by private
companies, which functioned as gobetweens for contract emigrants.
Consequently, situations exactly like
those feared in the Emigrant
Protection Law actually developed
in the year that this law was
In November 1896 the arrival of
emigrants on the ship Toyomaru
occasioned a lawsuit, and in
February of the following year, 534
Japanese were not allowed to
disembark when they landed in
Honolulu aboard the Shinshumaru.
Again, on March 20 the 163
immigrants transported on the
Sakuramaru were denied entrance
into Hawai‘i. The basis for these
denials on the Hawaiian side was
the fact that the Japanese emigrants
lacked the fifty dollars needed for
status verification, as stipulated in
Hawaiian immigration regulations.
What the private emigration
companies had been doing upon
docking was to lend fifty dollars
cash to those emigrants who lacked
such funds and then collect the fifty
dollars once the emigrant arrived
ashore. In other words, it was
camouflaged “show money.” In this
way, according to the Hawaiian
officials, the number of delinquent
In 1885, when Minister of Finance
Matsukata Masayoshi’s deflation
policies reached their extreme,
poverty and starvation in rural
farming communities reached an all
time high due to overpopulation in
the post-Meiji-Restoration era.
Japanese farmers who could not
make a living within the borders of
11 | 8 | 2
emigrants continued to grow. At the
time the Japanese Emigrant
Protection Law was issued, one
could count nineteen such
specialized emigrant companies in
the nation.
of Hawai‘i became stronger. In 1898,
Hawai‘i became incorporated as a
territory into the United States.
At this time, Japan’s central
colonization policy was based in
Taiwan’s colonial economy. On
April 17, 1895, the peace treaty for
the Sino-Japanese War was signed
in Shimonoseki, and it was decided
that China should pay the sum of
300 million yen in reparations and
cede the Liaodong peninsula,
Taiwan, and the Pescadores Islands.
Then on April 23, as is common
knowledge, there was the so-called
“Triple Intervention” by Russia,
Germany, and France over the
Liaodong peninsula. On May 5
Japan accepted the recommendation
to “return” the Liaodong peninsula.
Five days later, on May 10, Admiral
Kabayama Sukenori was appointed
Taiwan’s first governor-general, and
Imperial Guards, under the division
commander Prince Kitashirakawa,
landed in Taiwan. On June 2 China
handed over Taiwan to Japan, but a
resistance movement that opposed
the ceding of Taiwan fought until
October, extending into the central
and southern areas. Prince
Kitashirakawa died from an illness
contracted in battle. Subsequently,
Japan reformed the governorgeneral mandate and a civilian
system replaced it on March 31,
On the one hand, protecting
Japanese who emigrated abroad
meant, first of all, protecting
imperial subjects from the profitdriven emigrant enterprises that
committed illegal activities in both
Japan and the destination country.
On the other hand, the emigration
problem was also a phenomenon
that arose out of a rivalry between
the United States, which was
modifying its colonial policies
toward Hawai‘i and developing its
naval military power in the Pacific
Ocean, and Japan, which formed
colonial strategies in opposition to
these moves. In the ten years
following 1886 – the year an
emigration/immigration agreement
was signed by the Japanese foreign
minister, Inoue Karoru, and
Hawai‘i’s foreign minister, R. W.
Irwin — over 30,000 Japanese socalled emigrants were transported
to Hawai‘i. In Hawai‘i, the
populations of Americans,
Hawaiians, Chinese, and Japanese
became roughly even. The
politically cozy relationship between
King Kalakaua and Chinese
merchants provoked in the United
States a sense of impending danger
that Hawai‘i would be taken over by
Chinese immigrants. In 1890 a tax
law that was to protect domestic
American sugarcane business
interests was enacted, and agitation
by American owners of Hawaiian
sugarcane fields for the annexation
Given that failed domestic
governance forced Japanese unable
to make a living within Japan to
other countries, threatening the
livelihoods of the inhabitants of
those countries, it could be said that
wars of colonial invasion and
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“emigration” fall under the same
logic, namely as policies that
attempt to solve problems through
incursion. At the same time, the
Emigration Protection Law was a
necessary strategic move by Japan to
address international discord caused
by both of these varieties of
Japanese invasions. It was the case
that efforts to exclude Japanese
immigrants, which had begun at the
end of the nineteenth century, grew
even stronger in the twentieth
century. Under the pretext of
“emigrant protection,” the nationstate called Japan actually sought to
“protect” its interests vis-à-vis major
Western powers, and it is within this
context that the term “protection”
gains meaning.
Ezo is the northern gate of the
imperial nation. It is close to Santan
and Manchuria, and although its
boundaries are roughly settled, in
the northern area there is a place
where locals and people from
abroad live together. The Japanese
administrators there, who have
enslaved the natives until now, have
been cruel in the extreme. The
foreigners have been exceedingly
amiable; therefore, the natives are
sometimes hostile to our
countrymen and instead have
reverence for the foreigners.2
At this point in history, the Japanese
appellation for Ainu Moshir was
“Ezo,” or the Land of Barbarians,
and the Japanese understood the
geographical scope to include
Sakhalin. The vague phrase “a place
where locals and people from
abroad live together” indicates the
presence of Russians. Japanese are
referred to as “our countrymen,”
while the term “natives” is chosen
for the Ainu.
This history notwithstanding, in
actuality, from the beginning of the
Meiji era in 1868 until the twentieth
century the majority of Japanese
“emigrants” settled in the island
Ainu Moshir, homeland of the
indigenous Ainu, which was
unilaterally named “Hokkaido” by
Japan in 1869. As we will see, the
word “protection” in the Hokkaido
Former Natives Protection Law
fulfilled rather remarkably the role
of concealing traces of that invasion
from the Japanese populace on the
However, in September of that same
year, in a letter by Sanjo Sanetomi
addressed to the Hokkaido
Development Agency we can see
several significant changes.
September 1869
Development Agency:
Invasion in the Name of
1. Hokkaido is the imperial
nation’s northern gate and is an
extremely valuable area. In
accordance with the recent
command to develop
Hokkaido, we must carry out
the deepest wishes of the
Ainu Moshir was designated a
strategic bulwark against Russia’s
southern expansion policies by the
new Meiji government. An 1869
imperial inquiry reads:
11 | 8 | 2
imperial will. To that end, one
must follow the path of
civilization and deepening
moral customs.
obey orders and not just
pretend to do so.
Minister of the Left
In August of 1869 Ezo was renamed
“Hokkaido,” and what the Japanese
called “Karafuto” (Sakhalin) was
deemed to be a separate entity.
Since this decision was predicated
on Russia’s encroachment upon
Sakhalin Island, this area was
referred to as a “Russian mixedresidential quarter,” and a logical
framework different from the one
applied to Hokkaido was followed.
Given that Sakhalin was a space
where two nations, Russia and
Japan, confronted each other,
“individual personal conduct” was
impermissible, and in the case that
trouble should arise, “one must go
through government agencies” and
“consult with the consul” of Russia.
In those situations when matters still
could not be resolved, then “all of
the nation’s resources” would be
brought to bear. In contrast, the area
named Hokkaido was viewed as a
territory without any such
preconditions. There, Japanese
officials employed the legal
terminology “ownerless land” by
which European and American
powers had earlier established the
“sovereignty” of their modern
nation-states by pushing through
colonial strategies that ignored
indigenous peoples.4
2. As mainlanders gradually
emigrate, they must cooperate
with natives, be productive in
their occupations, and devote
themselves to the civilizing
3. As for Sakhalin, where
mainlanders live among
Russians, one must be wholly
decorous, devote oneself to
reason, and not behave in a
thoughtless manner or take up
vices. Even in the case that
Russians are arrogant or do
unjust things, one cannot
respond as an individual. In all
decisions, one must choose
rightly and consult with the
consul. Moreover, in those
cases where one experiences
difficulties, one must go
through government agencies,
using all of the nation’s
enduring trifling matters
peaceably, and endeavoring
not to subvert our larger
4. Especially when building a
new country in a distant place,
if one does not work in
solidarity with government
officials, far-reaching projects
will never succeed. One should
not debate who is noble and
who is not, but should
approach everything with
consideration and sincerity and
The “development” of Hokkaido
was at the heart of an employment
scheme for former samurai whose
previous special privileges were
rescinded through the process of
abolishing feudal domains and
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establishing prefectures in 1871.
After the creation of the Hokkaido
Development Agency in 1869,
“regulations for emigrant
assistance” in the Sapporo area were
put into place. These stipulated:
hitherto the custom.
2. It is strictly forbidden for
girls born hereafter to be
3. Hereafter, the custom of
wearing earrings is strictly
forbidden for men, but for the
time being, women may do as
they wish.
Farmers will be provided housing, a
small stipend, farming implements,
household items, a three-year food
supply, and even expenses for
opening land, in addition to travel
expenses. For merchants and
artisans, capital for building a house
and a pecuniary allowance will be
granted or lent. Some of these
privileges will be available not just
to individuals recruited by the
Development Agency but also to
those who voluntarily resettle.
Moreover, we will establish facilities
for those who are approved and
relocate to their designated posts.5
4. One must make every effort
to learn spoken Japanese, of
course, but also the rules of
written Japanese.
Development Agency6
In the first place, in the phrasing
“people who engage in opening
land” there lies a
notion that denies the fundamentals
of Ainu life. Only people who open
land and undertake farming are
recognized. However, Ainu
livelihood relied primarily on
hunting and fishing, not to mention
the fact that they did not have the
concept of owning land or private
ownership. According to the Ainu,
Ainu Moshir, or the Quiet Land of
Humans, was a collectively shared
natural world. Still, the Hokkaido
Development Agency passed the
Land Holdings Regulation in
September of 1872, and land that
had already been “opened and
planted” was converted into
privately owned land, while, with
the exception of areas that had
previously been designated for
government use or private “lease
land,” all of Hokkaido, as a
government-owned entity, was put
up for sale to interested private
With the promulgation of the
Family Register Law (Kosekiho,
1871), the Ainu were incorporated
into the category of “commoners,”
and at this time it became practice to
enter them into the record as
“former natives.” The Hokkaido
Development Agency carried out
blatant assimilation policies, issuing
most notably an order that strictly
abolished “customs” that were
deeply rooted in Ainu livelihood.
Announcement to Natives:
1. Those people who engage in
opening land will be provided
with a house, farming
implements, and other things,
and it is forbidden to burn the
house of a deceased person and
change residences, as has been
11 | 8 | 2
parties. This regulation was for the
sake of none other than
“mainlanders.” Vast areas where
Ainu were once able to hunt and
fish were expropriated as land for
Japanese settlers.
opening of the transcontinental
railroad was put into practice in
Hokkaido. That is to say, the
strategic aggression against, and
encroachment upon, American
indigenous peoples by Anglo-Saxon
“immigrants” were replicated by
Japanese immigrants in Hokkaido,
the homeland of the Ainu. Capron,
who advocated free migration and
foreign capital, but opposed to the
bitter end the Meiji administration’s
commitment to “development”
through government channels,
returned home in 1875.
In a similar fashion, the rituals
related to Ainu traditional views on
life and death were denied, and
Ainu were even forced to adopt the
gendered customs of the so-called
mainlanders. It goes without saying
that the language of the Hokkaido
announcement is Japanese. The
Ainu language, which did not have
a writing system, was not
acknowledged as a language. Thus,
Hokkaido became a place where
only mainlanders could live and
prosper, and “cooperating with
natives” there was fundamentally
Then, in that same year there was a
turning point in Hokkaido’s
development due to the signing of
the Russo-Japanese cooperation
agreement called the SakhalinKurile Exchange Treaty. The states
known as Russia and Japan
unilaterally divided up the territory
of Ainu Moshir and drew the
countries’ borders in such a fashion
that people of the same ethnic group
were made to hold differing
citizenship. Once the national
borders were fixed, 854 Ainu living
in Sakhalin were forcibly moved to
Hokkaido, and there were even
cases in which Ainu were coerced
into relocating to interior areas
because authorities feared they
would escape back to their
This was not, however, solely the
idea of the Hokkaido Development
Agency’s director Kuroda Kiyotaka.
Kuroda, who had traveled to the
United States, invited Horace
Capron, commissioner of the
Department of Agriculture under
the authority of the victorious Civil
War general President Grant, as a
foreign consultant to assist in
“developing Hokkaido.” The offer
to Capron set his yearly salary at
10,000 dollars and included housing.
Capron, after arriving in Japan in
1871, ordered a survey by forestry
agents and chemists who had
accompanied him from the United
States, instructing them to search for
appropriate farming, logging, and
mining locations. America’s
putative development path after the
In 1876, William Smith Clark came
to Japan on a contract to establish
the Sapporo Agricultural College.7
In the short period of one year, he
taught agricultural practices suited
to Hokkaido’s climate and lifestyle,
converted students to Christianity,
and attempted to shape Hokkaido’s
11 | 8 | 2
landscape into the likes of a rural
farming community in New
opened it could be purchased at a
low price. Under this Regulation for
the Settlement of Former Samurai,
“emigrated” to Hokkaido. Not only
that, there were numerous legal
devices put into place to “protect”
the “emigrants,” who were mostly
samurai. Of course, in the
background, the livelihoods of
Ainu, which were fundamentally
rooted in nature, were destroyed by
this process.
Thus, the origins of the
development of Hokkaido, to put it
simply, lie in a system of invasive
immigration as relief for the former
samurai who had lost privileges that
they had had as military personnel
and government officials under the
shogunal system during the
Tokugawa period (1600-1868). For
example, in 1873, the Hokkaido
tondenhei farming-militia system
was created, which until 1890
mainly recruited former samurai as
a crucial means to provide them aid.
By 1899, when the Hokkaido Former
Natives Protection Law was issued,
7,337 households totaling 39,911
people were sent as “emigrants” to
Hokkaido under this program.
Thus, the term “protection” in the
Hokkaido Former Natives
Protection Law not only suppresses
the over thirty years of history of the
Japanese invasion and looting of
Ainu Moshir, but also, in the end,
contains the intention to invert the
situation so as to make it appear that
it was the Ainu’s fault. We should
not forget, moreover, that the
Hokkaido tondenhei farming-militia
fell under the Ministry of the
Army’s administration and
participated in both the SinoJapanese War and Russo-Japanese
War (1904-1905) as part of Japan’s
imperial regular army. These
ostensible emigrants were therefore
also an invading army.
In 1883, the year after the
abolishment of the Hokkaido
Development Agency, the central
government decreed that every year
150,000 yen could be lent to former
samurai who applied to migrate and
settle in Hokkaido, and the
Regulation for the Settlement of
Former Samurai (1885) in Hokkaido
was issued. This regulation gave
extremely privileged and favorable
treatment to former samurai from
all prefectures who could not
shoulder the resettlement expenses,
loaning them interest-free capital for
opening land and even offering
payment plans that allowed a
deferment for seven years and
thereafter twenty annual
installments. Each household was
provided with approximately 8
acres of land, and after this had been
The Discourse of “Ruin”
Article 1 of the Hokkaido Former
Natives Protection Law reads,
“Those Former Natives of Hokkaido
who are engaged, or wish to engage,
in agriculture shall be granted free
of charge no more than 12 acres of
land per household.” As mentioned
above, this law applied only to those
who “engage in farming” or those
who “wish to engage in farming.”
11 | 8 | 2
Thoroughly permeating this law is
the idea that without converting to
the practice of farming, one cannot
be recognized as a Japanese
“citizen,” which completely
disregards the habitus of the Ainu,
who for many centuries had lived
by hunting and fishing. To force the
practice of farming on a people who
live by hunting and fishing is none
other than an act of violence against
their very right to a livelihood.
Thus, this law constituted an attack
on the Ainu’s entire arena of life,
ranging from issues of physical
health and nutritional balance based
on daily foodstuffs to worldviews,
cosmology, and religious beliefs.
Emperor’s wish for universal
benevolence” and to “bestow the
honor of becoming imperial
subjects” on Ainu through
assimilation and advancement via
the educational system. However,
this assertion is made possible only
because the law presents “national
duty” within an assumed “logic” of
“survival of the fittest.” 8 It goes
without saying that it was the
Japanese putative development of
Hokkaido that precipitated the crisis
of Ainu society and that it was not
caused by the Ainu themselves.
Moreover, we must pay attention to
the fact that the policies of
“protection” and “assimilation”
themselves, essentially policies of
“imperialization” (making Ainu into
imperial subjects), deployed in
colonial law hastened their “ruin”
and not the other way around.
Article 5 of the law reads,
“Hokkaido Former Natives who are
injured or ill but cannot afford
medical treatment shall be provided
with medical treatment or expenses
for medicine” and Article 7,
“Children of destitute Hokkaido
Former Natives who are attending
school will be provided with tuition
fees.” Article 9 states, “An
elementary school will be
constructed with funds from the
National Treasury in areas where
there is a Former Native village.”
For the Ainu this law meant
ultimately to be controlled by the
science of hygiene and made into
Japanese citizens through a
“civilizing” mission executed
through the educational system. In
other words, to be subjugated in the
name of “protection.”
Still, at this time when the Meiji
government was creating modern
“citizens” (by abolishing the former
four hierarchal statuses – samurai,
farmers, artisans, merchants – and
making all Japanese equal), the
process of turning Ainu into
“citizens” through the phrase
“former natives” paralleled the new
designation of the outcaste class
(hisabetsu burakumin) as “new
commoners,” positioning both
groups on the periphery of the
concept of citizenship by fixing their
difference. Afterward, Japan’s
imperial rule over foreign peoples
proceeded apace and Japanese
leaders applied their experiences
subjugating the Ainu and took as
their reference the Hokkaido Former
Natives Protection Law in these new
contexts. For example, consider the
This colonial law claims its purpose
is to make “former natives”
independent by converting them to
farming according to “the
11 | 8 | 2
Korean Civil Name Change Order
(1939), which forced Koreans to take
Japanese names, or the suppression
of “Takasago aborigines” in Taiwan.
Also, the “aboriginal school houses”
built in the mountainous regions of
Taiwan were modeled on the
“former natives’ schools” set up by
the Protection Law.9
Eldridge, who was Horace Capron’s
underling in the Hokkaido
Development Agency, geological
surveyor Benjamin Smith Lyman’s
measurements of Ainu bodies, the
Ministry of Industry’s geologist
John Milne’s survey of the customs
and language of the Sarudani Ainu,
Austria’s legation’s official
translator Heinrich von Siebold’s
research on folk customs, zoologist
Edward Morse’s scientific surveys,
and Isabella Bird’s reports on Ainu
life. Even Basil Hall Chamberlain,
professor at Tokyo Imperial
University, visited the Ainu village
Biratori in 1887. Chamberlain
developed the new academic fields
of “Japanese national language
studies” and “Oriental comparative
linguistics,” and he undertook
comparisons of Ainu and Japanese
languages, myths, and place names
and even extended his efforts to the
Ryukyuan language, hypothesizing
a theory of the genealogy of the
Japanese language based on the
theory of evolution.
In practice, the enforcement of the
Hokkaido Former Natives
Protection Law, which lacked any
budgetary support, did not proceed
as planned. However, as Murai
Osamu rightly points out, the
emerging ideology found in it can
be said to have formed the
foundation of the colonial policies of
the Greater Japanese Empire. Not
only did the promulgation of the
Imperial Rescript on Education
(1890) represent a critical
opportunity to establish the
ideology of assimilation centered on
compulsory schooling, but rapidly
growing new academic discourses at
the time also played a significant
role in the establishment of this
ideology. The emerging scholarly
disciplines were anthropology,
archeology, and linguistics. The
symbol of the “ruin” of the Ainu
people was comprehensively
formulated by these three academic
fields, which mutually drove each
other on. Those who created the
fundamental premises of this new
scholarship, as it turns out, were
foreign diplomats and foreigners
hired to work in Japan.
Of course, it goes without saying
that at the center of Ainu research
was the missionary John Batchelor.
After Batchelor came to Hakodate in
1877 on a mission for the Anglican
Church, he began the study of the
Ainu language and continued
proselytization for the “salvation of
the Ainu.” As the numbers of
converts increased, Batchelor
established the Airen Charity School
in Horobetsu village in 1890 and
endeavored to teach Ainu youths,
but this became untenable since
such activities were illegal according
to treaty stipulations. In 1892 he set
up a school in the Yachigashira area
There was, for example, English
consul Walter Dening’s research on
Ainu vocabulary, the study of Ainu
poison arrows by Dr. Stuart
11 | 8 | 2
of Hakodate and educated Ainu
children who boarded there, and
again in 1895, he taught twenty
Ainu girls, who were living with
him in his home in Sapporo. In 1892
he built an Ainu hospital in
Sapporo, and, cooperating with the
head of the Sapporo hospital Sekiba
Fujihiko, provided medical
treatment to close to four hundred
Ainu over the course of four years.
In addition to Batchelor,
Englishwoman Miss Lucy Payne set
up a charity school in 1891 in
Harutori village in Kushiro and
built “native schools” adjacent to a
number of churches.
Sakhalin became Russian territory.
Without a doubt, one of the goals of
the Hokkaido Former Natives
Protection Law was to extricate
Ainu from the educational and
medical activism of foreigners and
to place them under the auspices of
the state then called the Greater
Japanese Empire. At the same time
that the word “protection”
functioned to simultaneously
separate the indigenous people of
this internal colony from the
“foreigners” and segregate and
distinguish them from Japanese
under the control of the Greater
Japanese Empire, this term also
concealed the fact that the successful
Japanese colonial invasion known
by the monikers “immigration” and
“settlement” thoroughly destroyed
the roots of indigenous culture and
The state of education in Hokkaido
after the promulgation of the
Imperial Rescript on Education
points to the nationalistic backlash
against the activities of foreigners. A
report by the 1893 investigative
committee on the Former Natives
Education Law claims, “Ainu
schools have not yet been set up, so
students begin their education in
vain with foreigners. There is a
school in Horobetsu that is managed
by Batchelor. More than twenty
Ainu accept his absolute control.
The schoolhouse in Harutori was
built by Payne. Over forty children
are being raised there. It will be a
national disgrace if we continue to
look on as spectators.”
Then, according evolutionary
theories, the Japanese were
positioned as early adopters of
“civilization” and superior to the
Ainu, and the discourse of cultural
anthropology, which reasoned with
the oft-repeated idea that Japanese
needed to protect the racially
inferior and distinct Ainu race since
it was suffering a crisis of “ruin,”
gained footing through the work of
Japanese anthropologists.
In 1893, the first courses in
anthropology at Tokyo Imperial
University were launched. The
“Koropokkuru Debate” that
developed between Tsuboi Shogoro
(1863-1913), who adhered to the
Edward Morse school of thought,
and Koganei Yoshikiyo (1859-1944)
of the Erwin von Bälz school, was
To somehow extract the Ainu from
the care of foreigners was an idea
passed on since the days of the
Matsumae domain’s domination in
Ezo during the Tokugawa era. This
thinking was not in the least bit
different from when the 854 Ainu
were forcibly removed once
11 | 8 | 2
quite famous, and in 1894 the
Hokkaido Anthropological Society
came into being and the
colonization of knowledge
continued. The following is a
portion of a speech given by
Koganei in the year before the
Hokkaido Former Natives
Protection Law was proposed in the
National Assembly:
undeniable. Compared with
civilized people, barbarians
generally need a great expanse of
land. That is to say, since the
barbarians do not know how to
adopt farming of their own accord,
taking and eating that which is
produced by nature, they require
quite a large area of land. As more
Japanese come to settle and open
land, from a perspective of peopleto-land ratio, the land area
decreases, and, owing to this, the
Ainu’s struggle to survive becomes
increasingly difficult. This is for the
Ainu a considerable hindering
obstacle. Whether Ainu can
overcome this obstacle or not — this
is a matter of life or death. In other
words, because survival will become
more challenging, I believe that if
Ainu cannot manage to survive
through work, they will inevitably
gradually decline.12
So then, as scholars from Japan and
abroad have said, the people called
Ainu are not capable of acquiring
civilization, the same as the world’s
ordinary barbarian races. As for the
reason for this — that these
barbarian races are unable to
acquire civilization — there is the
argument that civilization is like a
poison to them, and barbarian races
that come in contact with
civilization gradually become
extinct, which is a claim that can
likewise be made regarding the
Ainu. When we think carefully,
however, it still retains some
vagueness. We must try to think of
what could bring about a successful
meeting of Ainu and civilization.
Koganei’s speech is replete with
contradictions. He starts by stating
that “As Hokkaido progresses” via
hardships are created for the Ainu.”
It is none other than the Japanese,
who, under the name of
development, usurp Ainu hunting
and fishing grounds, privatize their
territory, and convert it into
farmland by “reclaiming” the
forests. Up to this point, his
argument is founded upon the
historical realities of Hokkaido and
its colonization. However, the
argument that the responsibility of
“imparting civilization” to the Ainu
falls to the “Japanese” affirms the
colonization of Hokkaido and the
Japanese settlement there. Not only
are the Ainu a “barbarian race,” it is
So, if someone should say the Ainu
are steadily becoming extinct
because the Japanese have imparted
civilization to them, well, that is an
explanation hard to swallow. To be
sure, since the Meiji Restoration, the
development of Hokkaido has
progressed yearly, and the more
Hokkaido improves, the more
worsening hardships are created for
the Ainu. This may be obvious. As
the land is further reclaimed, the
animals they hunt [bear] and the
fish they catch [salmon], among
other things, decline. This is perhaps
11 | 8 | 2
asserted, they are also “incapable of
acquiring civilization,” the latter
being a common characteristic of the
“world’s ordinary barbarians.”
Therefore, it is suggested, the Ainu
barbarian race is fated to
circumstances forced on the Ainu,
wherein the Japanese were obliged
to protect the Ainu who were
destined to extinction, were
concealed and erased from historical
This is Koganei’s irrational logic.
The impoverishment of Ainu
livelihood caused by Japanese
colonization and emigration is
attributed to problems with the
Ainu “race.” On the one hand, we
have the “Japanese race,” which was
able to adopt civilization, and, on
the other hand, the “barbarian race”
of Ainu, who naturally go “extinct”
when they come into contact with
“civilization.” As a result, within
this discourse there operates an
unfounded assertion that the
Japanese are civilized. Based on this
definition, Koganei produces a logic
that assumes that the so-called
civilized Japanese race has been
charged with the mission to protect
the barbarian Ainu race that is
becoming extinct.
Recommended citation: Komori Yoichi, Michele
M. Mason and Helen J.S. Lee, “Rule in the Name
of Protection: The Japanese State, the Ainu and
the Vocabulary of Colonialism,” The Asia-Pacific
Journal, Volume 11, Issue 8, No. 2, February 25,
Articles on related subjects
• Simon Cotterill, Ainu Success: the political and
Cultural Achievements of Japan’s Indigenous
Minority (/-Simon-Cotterill/3500)
• Mark Winchester, On the Dawn of a New
National Ainu Policy: The “‘Ainu’ as a Situation”
Today. (/-Mark-Winchester/3234)
• Yukie Chiri and Kyoko Selden, The Song the
Owl God Himself Sang. “Silver Droplets Fall Fall
All Around,” an Ainu Tale (/-Chiri-Yukie/3026)
• Katsuya HIRANO, The Politics of Colonial
Translation: On the Narrative of the Ainu as a
Once colonial invasion is justified
under the rhetorical devices of
“civilization” and “race,” the
schema wherein the Japanese did
the protecting and the Ainu were
the ones protected towers as if a
scientific truth. This logic was not
applied just to the Ainu race. It was
shared by the linguist Kindaichi
Kyosuke, who tried to “protect” the
literary heritage of the Ainu
traditional oral epics (yukar) from
“ruin.” In this way, hidden behind
the language of protection, the
colonial crimes of the Greater
Japanese Empire and the truth of the
• ann-elise lewallen, Indigenous at last! Ainu
Grassroots Organizing and the Indigenous
Peoples Summit in Ainu Mosir (/-ann_eliselewallen/2971)
• Chisato “Kitty” O. Dubreuil, The Ainu and
Their Culture: A Critical Twenty-First Century
Assessment (/-Chisato__Kitty_-Dubreuil/2589)
• David McNeill, Oda Makoto, Pak Kyongnam,
Tanaka Hiroshi, William Wetherall & Honda
Katsuichi, The Diene Report on Discrimination
and Racism in Japan (/-Oda-Makoto/1882)
11 | 8 | 2
• Joshua Hotaka Roth, Political and Cultural
Perspectives on Japan’s Insider Minorities (/Joshua-Roth/1723)
hyoronsha, 1942), 401.
Kaitakushi nisshi 2 (Journal of the Development
Agency 2) (Tokyo: Tokyo daigaku shuppankai,
[Translator’s Note] Smith was a professor of
chemistry and president of the Massachusetts
Agricultural College from 1867 to 1879. He is
most famous in Japan for his parting words,
which were, according to legend, “Boys, be
[Translator’s Note] Komori’s essay first
appeared in the book Media, hyosho, ideorogii:
Meiji sanjyunendai no bunka kenkyu (Media,
Representation, Ideology: A Study of the Culture
of the Third Decade of Meiji), eds. Komori Yoichi,
Kono Kensuke, and Takahashi Osamu (Tokyo:
Ozawa shoten, 1997), 319-34. I would like to
thank Kim Tongfi, Inoue Makiko, Masayuki
Shinohara, and Leslie Winston for their
invaluable help with this translation. A special
thank you to Komori Yoichi for allowing us to
include this essay in our volume.
Utari mondai konwakai (Ainu Issues Discussion
Group), 1988.
Murai Osamu, “Kindai Nihon ni okeru nation
no soshutsu” (The Construction of the Nation in
Modern Japan), in Iwanami koza,
gendaishakaigaku 24: minzoku, kokka,
esunishitei (Contemporary Sociology Vol. 24:
Race, the Nation-State, and Ethnicity), ed. Inoue
Shun et al. (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1996),
[Translator’s Note] In previous centuries
Japanese were under the mistaken notion that
Hokkaido was geographically close to Manchuria
and Santan, an area in China. It is true that
historically Ainu conducted what Japanese called
“Santan trade” with various groups on Sakhalin
for Chinese goods, such as silk and colored
Takakura, Ainu seisaku shi, 571.
[Translator’s Note] This debate emerged out of
a larger discussion of the “racial” origins of the
Japanese. Tsuboi argued for the existence of a
non-Ainu Neolithic people, based on his
discovery of an Ainu legend that spoke of a
“dwarf-like people” (kor-pok-un-kur in Ainu,
koropokkuru in Japanese) who had preceded
Ainu settlement, while Koganei suggested that
the Jomon people, known through archaeological
evidence, were in fact Ainu. See Richard Siddle’s
discussion in Race, Resistance and the Ainu of
Japan (London: Routledge, 1996), 81-84.
Kaitakushi nisshi 4 (Journal of the Development
Agency 4) (Tokyo: Tokyo daigaku shuppankai,
Hanasaki Kohei, “Ainumoshiri no kaifuku:
Nihon no senjyuminzoku Ainu to Nihon kokka
no taiainu seisaku” (The Restoration of Ainu
Moshir: Japan’s Indigenous Ainu and the
Japanese State’s Policies toward the Ainu), in
Iwanami koza gendai shakaigaku 15: sabetsu to
kyosei no shakaigaku (Contemporary Sociology
Vol. 15: Sociology of Discrimination and
Coexistence), ed. Inoue Shun et al. (Tokyo:
Iwanami shoten, 1996), 93-108.
“Ainu no hanashi” (Stories of the Ainu),
Kokumin shinbun (Kokumin Newspaper), Mar.
27, 1894 (emphasis added). [Translator’s note:
The interpolations “bear” and “salmon” appear
in the newspaper article.
Takakura Shinichiro, Ainu seisaku shi (The
History of Ainu Policy) (Tokyo: Nippon

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