Remains of Ainu People in Australia to Be Returned to Japan

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The remains of four Ainu indigenous people that have been kept at two museums in Australia will be returned to Japan, Naoki Okada, Japanese minister in charge of Ainu-related policies, said Friday.

The Japanese and Australian governments had been in negotiations over the remains since their existence came to light in 2017. All the remains were discovered before World War II.

The remains of three of the Ainu people will be housed in a memorial facility at the National Ainu Museum and Park in Shiraoi in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido. This is because no Ainu groups have filed requests for their returns and the original location of the remains is not clear.

The Japanese government plans to return the remains of the other Ainu person, excavated in Sakhalin, to a related group.

Officials from Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat and groups including the Ainu Association of Hokkaido will visit the Australian museums in early May to receive the remains.