February 15, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, FEBRUARY 15, 2012 Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), a national nonprofit organization, sent a public statement of support in January, as the Ainu formed their own political party—a historic moment for the Indigenous peoples in Japan.
A group of Ainu activists in Hokkaido announced the formation of a political party for the Ainu on October 30, 2011. The Ainu Association of Hokkaido reported that Kayano Shiro, the son of the former Ainu leader Kayano Shigeru, will head the party. Their aim is to contribute to the realization of a multicultural and multiethnic society in Japan, along with rights for the Ainu.
“As a Comanche Indian from the United States, I know the importance of participating in the national political process,” said President and founder of AIO, LaDonna Harris. “In Comanche tradition we strive to be strong individuals so that we are better able to contribute to the well-being of the Comanche Tribe, the United States and the world.”
LaDonna Harris has worked for more than 50 years to secure the rightful place of Native Americans in U.S. politics, to give voice to a small minority, and to be heard at the highest levels of government and to influence policy-makers.
AIO’s sister organization, the Advancement of Maori Opportunity (AMO), has long upheld a respect and a commitment to supporting the Ainu, as their Indigenous brothers and sisters across the Pacific. The Maori Party is extremely proud to bring the best wishes of “tangata whenua” into this exciting event.
AIO’s staff and board of directors believe that coming together to collectively contribute to Japanese society and to be involved politically is the right of the Ainu. AIO applauds the efforts of the community to organize politically, to amplify their voice and to make a significant contribution to the future of Japan.