Ethnic Mongolians in Japan have staged protests during a visit by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to the country this week against Beijing’s policy of ending Mongolian-medium education in the northern region of Inner Mongolia.
Hundreds of Mongolians currently living in Japan protested outside the National Assembly in Tokyo on Tuesday and Wednesday, calling on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to reverse its policy, which sparked mass protests and school strikes across the region when it took effect on 1 September.
“Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi is visiting Japan,” Khubis, an ethnic Mongolian scholar living in Japan, told RFA.
“Mongolians in Japan held a protest at the Japanese parliament; this will last for two days, [Tuesday and Wednesday],” he said.
Video of the protest posted to social media showed the protesters holding up banners and placards in Mongolian, Chinese, Japanese and English, which read: “Withdraw the sinicization policy!” “Stop oppressing Mongolians!” and “Give Mongolians back their mother tongue!”
Other slogans called on the CCP to respect cultural rights for ethnic minorities, as required by the Chinese constitution. Protesters also sang a song that has become the anthem of the recent protests, “I am a Mongolian.”
Protester Tara, who gave only a single name, said there is massive opposition to the new language policy in schools that previously offered a Mongolian-medium education to children from ethnic Mongolian backgrounds.
“I hope that China will abide by its own constitution,” Tara said. “We call on the Chinese government to abandon its policy of cultural genocide.” Qibatu, a Mongolian native of West Ujimqin Banner, said the change in teaching policy also violates China’s own laws governing promised autonomy for ethnic minority groups. “The so-called new teaching methods are compulsory,” Qibatu said. “This is a total violation of ethnic minority mother tongue education in the region … which has aroused anger and opposition among Mongolians.”