“The first Ainu lawmaker, Kayano brought the ethnic minority’s plight to national attention. “という副題がつけられて、北海道アイヌの最初の国会議員であった萱野茂さんの訃報が今朝のIHTに載っていた。
“In an interview with The Asahi Shimbun earlier this year, Kayano said he had just completed writing his 28th yukar collection. He emphasized the importance of oral folklore for the Ainu people because the language does not have its own writing system.
“Because we learn only Japanese at schools, the Ainu language faced the danger of extinction in the past years,” said Kayano. He said the battle to keep the language alive was what spurred him to write about 100 books on the subject as well as an Ainu dictionary.
He was also instrumental in setting up an Ainu language school for young people.
“It would be a great pleasure if the children who are currently learning Ainu can be proud they learned Ainu language from me,” he said.”