On 11 August 2008, the Japanese government held a meeting of the "Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu people" for the first time at the prime minister's office, in order to discuss new measures to improve the status of the Ainu people. This time, how far the measures could be reached to support the Ainu's independence, including recovering their rights as former inhabitants, improving their livelihood and education, and shifting the conventional policies that centered on promoting their cultures, were spotlighted.
The panel was established after both houses approved the resolutions to recognize the Ainu as indigenous people in June. In the first meeting, the panel selected Sato Koji, Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University as Chair. The eight members of the panel are; Ando Nisuke, Director of the Kyoto Human Rights Research Institute, Kato Tadashi, Director of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, Sasaki Toshikazu, Professor of the National Museum of Ethnology, Sato Koji, Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University, Takahashi Harumi, Governor of Hokkaido, Tsunemoto Teruki, Chief of the Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies of Hokkaido University, Toyama Atsuko, Director of the New National Theatre Foundation, and Yamauchi Masayuki, Professor of Tokyo University. Mr. Kato was the sole representative of Ainu people. The panel plans to hold monthly meetings to compile proposals by summer 2009.
The Ainu Association of Hokkaido, one of the organizations consisted of representatives of the Ainu people, has since 1982, called for the recovery of people's rights, the abolition of discrimination, the repeal of the Hokkaido Former Aborigines Protection Act and the enactment of the New Ainu Law. The Japanese government established an "Advisory Committee of the Learned on the new Japanese Policy concerning the Ainu People" in 1995 to revise the measures for the Ainu people. They submitted their report in April 1996 acknowledging the Ainu's indigenous nature and ethnicity, and called for measures to stimulate Ainu culture and traditions. In response, in May 1997, the government abolished the Hokkaido Former Aborigines Protection Act and formed the Ainu Culture Promotion Act, but it did not mention that Ainu were indigenous people. In March 1997, the Sapporo District Court considered the Ainu as indigenous people in the judgment of the Nibutani Dam incident (filed by Kayano Shigeru and Kaizawa Koichi), but the Japanese government did not change their stance. In June 2008, 11 years after the judgment, before the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, the Japanese parliaments (both Upper and Lower Houses) passed a resolution that recognized the Ainu as indigenous people of Japan, and the Japanese government finally recognized the Ainu as such and established the new Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons. (12 August 2008)
· "Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu people holds first meeting" Nikkei Shinbun Newspaper, August 12, 2008
· "Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu people holds first meeting to advocate policies next summer - to focus on expansion of life support" Hokkaido Shinbun Newspaper, August 12, 2008
· "Upper and Lower Houses of the Diet of Japan recognize the Ainu as Indigenous People" News-in-Brief, HURIGHTS OSAKA
· "Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu people" Prime Minister's Office [Japanese]
· Panel formed to study Ainu situation, advocate policies, The Japan Times, July 2, 2008
· Panel on Ainu holds first meeting, The Japan Times Weekly, Aug. 16, 2008
· The Ainu Association of Hokkaido [English]