CORRESPONDENCE OCTOBER, 2008 SUBJECT : The "barbaric" rituals in the Ainu culture

Message: "These rituals are part of a very old religion, if you did your research you would know that the Ainu people consider the Bear to be the highest Kamuy or god in their religion coming to earth to visit them, the rituals is part of releasing the Kamuy, or soul back to the Kamuy Mosir, Land of the Gods. These people are not doing these rituals to hurt the bears its part of their culture and they are doing it to honor the bears sacrifice so that they may survive. Please do some research next time. This effort is showing the lack of cross-cultural empathy. I am strongly against your orginization now because of this issue" - Josh

Answer AAP: Thank you for your message as a reaction on the 
page.
With respect the point is that its not a cultural herritage its a custom..
In todays world we are all aware of science facts, so those rituals are unneeded.. although you can celibrate your gods in some humane manner.
For the animals." -
Jose

Message: "Before I continue our discusion I just want to say that I am very impresed with your quick personlized response. Now with the matter of the Ainu ritual, the bears are treated very well in custody provided with food, drink, and regular exercise. I am also not arguing that what they are doing is "right" but simply that it is part of thier culture, cultural herritage or custom. Also that even if we have scientific evidence stating that thier religeion is wrong (Which we don't, in my experince spirituality is imposible to prove true or false) we should not force our cultural views upon another. Check this site out on thier ritual. It doesnt have all the facts but some of it is there.
http://www.fieldmuseum.org/research_collections/anthropology/anthro_sites/boone/ainu/ainu_com/ainu_com6.html
If you have a few sources as well feel free to share them with me, I am very intrested in the Ainu Religeion." -
Josh

Answer AAP:
Although I have taken notice of Ainu culture in the past I am not very familiar with their culture. In fact we respect cultural, religious and folkloristic traditions and rituals as far as these are not instrumental in the killing of sentient beings.
We probably differ in our priorities: As we understand you tend to value traditions above life and we value life more than traditions. The civilized world banned cruelty against people for that matter and witch-burning, scalping and cannibalism has stopped, although involved ritual songs and war dances survived in theatrical displays which is absolutely fine. Consequently we would like to stop bullfighting and any other tradition-based animal cruelty. It is fine to treasure a tradition but keep the abuse, let alone the killing of an animal out of it. You might understand this point of view as expressed in this question regarding bullfights: “If the (sequence of) acts in a bullfight performed somewhere in the public domain would get you either: 1. lynched, 2. arrested and jailed for extreme criminal violence, or 3. having you treated with tender loving care in a closed mental hospital for the rest of your life ……., why are those acts condoned and even honored in a bullfight arena?”  We consider the obvious political and legal double standards – festive cruelty is fine - as a public mental health threat.
In short, by definition we cannot accept any reason or excuse for animal cruelty. If we found solid reasons for stopping human sacrifice, it eludes us why we should continue animal sacrifice. Especially as the rituals are invented by humans and the animals have no interest in the purpose of these rituals, no choice and no escape from it.
 
Returning to the issue in question: although we have a dim view on fundamental terrorism and other unfortunate destructive excesses displayed in contemporary history, we have nothing against religions as such. However, if humans construct rituals for sacrifice, let them sacrifice themselves but leave totally innocent animals out of it.

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Email received June 2007

PLEASE WRITE EXAMPLE LETTER BELOW



JAPAN

URGENT


APPEAL FOR LETTER CAMPAIGN
AGAINST BARBARIC RITUALS IN HOKKAIDO




Revival of horrendously barbaric rituals by Ainu
in Hokkaido in September 2007


I urge all caring individuals and animal rights organizations to act now in order to prevent the revival of horrendously barbaric rituals by Ainu in Hokkaido in September 2007.

Please see the attached photos. (A news clip from Mainichi on the 2nd May and the photos of a bear being killed in the ritual.)

Pasted Graphic
A bear cab tied to sticks

Pasted Graphic 1
A bear which is about to be killed


Pasted Graphic 2
The cab is choked to death between the logs


“Iyomante” is supposed to be the most important ritual within Ainu tribe.
They kill hibernating mother bear in the cave then take the cubs back and rise for one to two years, and then they choke the bear to death.


They say it is the core of Ainu culture, but it is mere excuse for entertaining killing.

In modern days, no Ainu makes living by bear hunting, and it is hard to imagine that all modern general Ainu people would be pleased to see the revival of such an ancient rituals, which is half a century old.



Most likely it was planned by some commercial people in tourism industry.


The Ministry of Environment Japan published their view last October; “The ritual does not violate the law as long as it is observed in an appropriate manner for justifiable purposes”.

If they regard such ceremony, killing an innocent bear cub, is harmless educationally and ethically, can they show it to children?

I would like to know if shooting arrows and choking the poor bear can be “performing properly within proper reason”.


Also, I would like Hokkaido government to abolish “Permission to hunt bears for cultural inheritance” which they permit as special case for Ainus.

Is this notorious method of hunting aimed at hibernating mother bear and cubs a “culture”?

Their view is “If the scene of killing the bear cub is shown publicly, it could be against Law for The Humane Treatment and Management of Animals.


The government permits brown bear hunting in order to “inherit” traditional Ainu hunting method.”

It is very strange that No Ainu make living by hunting at present.


The other issue is bear hunting in Japan.

Last year, Japanese black bear alone, 5000 of them were shot killed just because they came near to human habitation area.


The worst record is 2000 in the year 2004, so this number is utterly outrageous.

It is hopeless as most governments’ views are “the distinction cannot be helped as bears are hazardous to human safety.”


However, this view is so false as hunting is all controlled by Hunting Associations in local areas.

They apply for hunting permits “in order to eliminate human hazard” and kill the bears then take their livers out.
One liver is sold for \200,000 (£870 approx.) to \600,000 (£2,600 approx.)!!


Permitted hunting period is between 15 November and 15 February. (1 October to end of February in Hokkaido), and of course bears are killed perfectly legally within these periods.


It is clearer than watching the sun that no bears will survive in Japan if we do not do anything now.


Last year, a ceremony called, “Marat Opnika” which kills grown up bear instead of cubs, revived in Asahikawa Hokkaido after 7 years. 60 people attended the ceremony from all over Hokkaido, and a male bear which was 4-5 years old was sacrificed.

We should urgently ban these meaningless killing for pleasures of few people.

When bears feel absolute danger of being attacked by humans in the cave, mother bears sometimes eat their cubs. They do that as they don’t want their cabs to be killed by humans.


Some hunters cut off bear’s feet s with axe if the bear resist coming out from the cave because of their fright.


We strongly urge the government to ban “Cave hunting” and all hunting in Japan urgently despite of the pressure by the hunting associations, and would like Bear care specialists in each local authorities.

It is vital that we send letters to the following bodies.



Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi
Ministry of Environment
Government of Japan Godochosha No.5,
1-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Cho-ku, 
Tokyo 100-8975
JAPAN
Tel: 81-(0)3-3581-3351
Email:
MOE@env.go.jp


Governor Harumi Takahashi
Hokkaido Government
Nishi 6-chome, Kita 3-jo, 
Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-8588 
JAPAN 
Tel: 81-(0)11-231-4111


Mr. Kazushi Abe
         (※This organization promots the ceremony.)
Vice Chairman 
Utari Association
Presto 1 .7 (7F), North 1, West 7,
Chuo-ku, Sapporo, 
Hokkaido 060-0111
JAPAN
Tel: 81-(0)11-271-4171
Email: ainu@frpac.or.jp


ONE letter from you will help!!!
Please please send your view to the above addresses without a delay.

Thank you all for your help and god bless all of you!


Best Regards,


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Send your own or sample letter below to:

ainu@frpac.or.jp

MOE@env.go.jp


Honorable Officials,

The civilized world is shocked and appalled to learn of the barbaric sacrificial rituals, in Asahikawa Hokkaido, in which bears and bear cubs are forced out of their dens in order to be cruelly and barbarically killed by Ainu tribesmen. Certainly, the Japanese government does not condone and approve of the inhumane treatment and senseless killing of animals. What then, is the lesson that such rituals teach to young children and what is the message that it sends to your citizens? I am horrified at the very thought! There can be no justification whatsoever, for such archaic and hideous "cultural" events which cast shame on all of Japan.


And as for the hunting of bears by so-called "sportsmen", this is equally repugnant, as there is clearly a profit motive, based on the sale of the bear's liver; the high value placed on such folk-medicine use of animal organs, is based on ignorance and superstition with no foundation in modern medicine that could justify the near extinction of black bears in Japan.


We urge you to take immediate action to put an end to these horrible practices in which animals are abused, tortured, killed to satisfy the primitive instincts of individuals who are totally lacking in understanding and compassion toward those creatures that share this planet with us. It is the role of government to step in to help its people evolve to a higher sense of justice, when the actions of individuals or groups are contrary to acceptable civilized standards or the greater good.

I look forward to your reply.


Name,

Country – e-mail address



Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi

Ministry of Environment

Government of Japan Godochosha No.5,

1-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Cho-ku,

Tokyo 100-8975

JAPAN

Tel: 81-(0)3-3581-3351

Email:
MOE@env.go.jp




Governor Harumi Takahashi

Hokkaido Government

Nishi 6-chome, Kita 3-jo,

Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-8588

JAPAN

Tel: 81-(0)11-231-4111




Mr. Kazushi Abe . . . . . . . . . (This organization promotes the ceremony.)

Vice Chairman

Utari Association

Presto 1 .7 (7F), North 1, West 7,

Chuo-ku, Sapporo,

Hokkaido 060-0111

JAPAN

Tel: 81-(0)11-271-4171

Email:
ainu@frpac.or.jp