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[YRP Students' Essays] Contrary Opinions

Is cultural assimilation a splendid idea to unify a country? There were a lot of countries which assimilated a minority people such as the United States, China, Spain, England and Japan. Japan assimilated the Ainu people. There were advantages for Japanese and disadvantages for the Ainu people about the culture assimilation.

To begin with, who are the Ainu people, and what is 'Ainu'? 'Ainu' means 'human being.' That culture extended from about 1400 to the early 1700s. They do not have original letters, therefore they had not written the records. They prayed to and performed many types of ceremonies for the gods in daily life which are nature gods like fire, water, wind and thunder, animal gods like bears, plant gods like mushrooms and object gods like boats.

Because the land where many Ainu people live is near Honshu, Japanese invaded there several times. It was terrible, especially in the Meiji Era. The Japanese government started to assimilate them. That means, they were not allowed to live with their daily customs. It was very good for the government to unify. They would not have to worry about speaking when they wanted to have a conversation with the Ainu people. There would be no trouble from culture differences. Also, the Japanese government could become rich in natural resources such as wood, water and land; accordingly there were many advantages for them.

However, the culture assimilation made the Ainu people sorrowful. They got so much stress. They could not be 'Ainu people' but had to be Japanese, so it was necessary to discard their life. After the culture assimilation, there was one more disagreeable point. The Ainu people became free, however they could not live like before, probably because for the descendants it was very difficult to succeed in their own tradition. The descendants were not Ainu people and also not Japanese. Perhaps that caused them to be embarrassed.

Cultural assimilation is an arduous problem. This is not only a one-sided issue, but it also has another side. On one hand, assimilated people can become happy; on the other hand, assimilated people can become unhappy. It is essential to get the territory, therefore many countries did it. Each government should think about the people before starting to assimilate them.


Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Rina Tazuke, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.
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