“During the discussion after the board meeting, one director raised a question about the Northern Territories Problem, ‘Now, [the Northern Territories issue] is a problem between Japan and the Soviet Union, so are there any concerns that Ainu might become political pawns?’ In response, the delegation’s leader Mr. Kaizawa said, ‘I don’t think so. We will take part in the event in a much more relaxed manner. My only hope right now is for every single member of our delegation to come back to Japan happily and safely after such a long journey” (Anutari Ainu, Vol. 6-7, January 20, 1974, pp.1-2).
Mr. Kaizawa’s response suggests that even though the Ainu trip happened during a period of international political tension, the Ainu weren’t interested in joining those discussions. Instead, the Ainu trip was a chance to connect with China’s different ethnic minorities and assert an Ainu identity that was unique from mainstream Japan.