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Indigenous Law Journal >
Fall 2005, Volume 4, No. 1 >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17123

Title: Case Note: Ogawa v. Hokkaido (Governor), the Ainu Communal Property (Trust Assets) Litigation
Authors: Stevens, Georgina
Issue Date: 1-Oct-2005
Publisher: Indigenous Law Journal
Abstract: The Ainu communal property case of Ogawa v. Hokkaido (Governor) is an attempt by the Ainu people to hold the Japanese state accountable for its policies of assimilation and mismanagement of their communal property under the paternalistic Former Natives Protection Act. By introducing and providing comment on the recent appeal decision in this Japanese case, it is hoped this case note will make information regarding one of the main litigation struggles currently being undertaken by the Ainu people accessible to a wider English-speaking readership, while at the same time highlighting the similarities in the history and present legal issues faced by Indigenous groups around the world. Government management of Aboriginal assets and the legal remnants of colonization, both issues that arise in this case, are problems that affect Indigenous groups in many countries. However, the Japanese judiciary has not been sympathetic to the Indigenous aspects of the case. The recent appeal decision by the Sapporo High Court upheld the lower Court’s findings that the procedure for restitution of Ainu communal property as provided for in the Cultural Promotion Act and carried out by the Hokkaido government was neither invalid, nor void. The Court found the defendant did not know the management details and whereabouts of some of the designated communal property that had been under its control since 1899. Nonetheless, the Court interpreted the restitution provisions of the Cultural Promotion Act narrowly to find the government had met its duty, which was only to return the US$13,600 of communal property “actually managed” by the governor when the Cultural Promotion Act came into force in 1997.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17123
ISSN: 1703-4566
Rights: Indigenous Law Journal
Appears in Collections:Fall 2005, Volume 4, No. 1

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