Much has been said about the genocides of the 20th century. Indeed I had a post up (that wasn’t that funny) on my humour blog, talking about 4 obvious genocides that century. So far the 21st century has been worse. In only 16 years there have been 2 genocides. The one in the Darfur region of the Sudan and the Yazidi genocide. There may be more but most people are hesitant to throw around the word genocide.
most people are hesitant to throw around the word genocide
But there are other genocides and actions that have just as nasty an outcome as genocide. I would like to introduce to you something I call a “soft genocide”. I will show what happened to the Ainu of Russia and Japan. This history takes place not in the developing world but that of fairly well developed Russia and obviously developed Japan. This seems closer than the developing world and I intend to bring the idea of soft genocide even closer at the end of this essay.
I am interested in the Ainu because they are white people. They are not Caucasian but also evolved with white skin. I’m just curious because I have lived around Europeans all my life and can even in some cases guess what country they are from. I would like to stare at a number of Ainu people to get to somehow know different white faces from European whites.
But there are so few pure Ainu left. The Japanese and Russians are both guilty of whittling down the population of Ainu. It was so bad in Japan at one point that many Ainu intermarried with the Japanese to end the persecution. In total the Japanese government says there are 25 000 pure Ainu in Japan.
Russia will not officially recognize the Ainu as an ethnicity. This and other indignities Russia has offered the Ainu. Still it is thought there may be a few hundred pure Ainu in that country.
You might think that they are safe with their 25 000+ people but I am a reader of science fiction. Generation ships are currently popular in that genre because they just seem like a more realistic way to the stars to the present pragmatist writers.
10 000 members of a society are considered to have enough genetic variety to survive and thrive and give birth to viable descendants. But that isn’t the only number presented, according to this Popular Mechanics article. Some think that the number is closer to 40 000. Since we’re talking about a society of pretty closely related people as opposed to a generation ship that looks like a United Nations of people, I’m going to say that 40 000 of that group seems like a more realistic number.
I say that the Russians and Japanese have committed a soft genocide of the Ainu.
The Ainu have only 25 000 people of the same ethnicity. So it is my opinion that the Ainu as an ethnic group are dead. Or are going to be in a distant future if they only breed with pure Ainu. Don’t get me wrong, people will still use the Ainu name. There are about 200 000 mixed Ainu in Japan. But it will be diluted.
Thus I say that the Russians and Japanese have committed a soft genocide of the Ainu.
I don’t think they would have been alone in this. Indeed, I live in a nation that has committed a plain genocide. The island of Newfoundland used to be inhabited by the indigenous Beothuk nation. We wiped them out. There are no reserves upon which can be found one Beothuk person.
More commonly, here in North America, we were playing the same game that the Japanese and Russians were doing. We warred with our indigenous people until they were no longer able to fight us. Then we persecuted them with our diseases (sometimes deliberately spread) and made them live on much smaller reserves. Their culture and their dignity was attempted to be stolen by residential schools which were often violent and for sure were trying to kill their cultures. If the accident of civil rights hadn’t come along, I think the Indigenous North Americans would be much closer to the plight of the Ainu.
We must stand against all genocides
Soft genocide, then, is a simple game. All you have to do is get the minority under 40 000 persons and then a slower, softer genocide has been committed. We must stand against all genocides, no matter how innocuous they might seem.