The differences between the Ainu and us is that big, that archeologists can see them even on bones. For thousands of years there was a balance between the two groups. Roughly around 500 - 400 before christ my people got the upper hand and started to push the Ainu more and more away. In the 1660 the Ainus were extinct in most parts of Japan and just managed to survive on Hokkaido in the North. They traded with our empire but over time we started to make settlements there. The deals with the Ainu were very unfavorable for them. They were treated like subjects. It was clear, that it was just a matter of time till Hokkaido too will be part of Japan. One of their chieftains, called Shakushain, realized that. The situation for the Ainu did grow more and more desperate and in 1669 Shakushain tried to build up an alliance with other ainu chiftains. Most were scared about what he planned. Some called it madness. There were roughly 50.000 Ainu. They had stoneage weapons and no armor and he planned to declare an war of independence against the empire of Japan. An empire with 25 million people, an army of Samurai, with guns and cannons.
Shakushain attacked an mining outpost and burned it down. The few japanese troops in the area retreated back to Honshu and the local Matsumae lord was unable to organize a quick reaction because he had only 50 Samurai at hand. It took quite a time till the message reached the Shogun at Edo (Tokyo). He organized quickly a campaign against Hokkaido. A large army was send because no one believed the Ainu rebelled against the Empire alone. Nobody expected that, because it looked like complete madness. It was believed it was organized from the russians, mongols or chinese.
The troops arrived at Hokkaido and several large battles started. But its infair to call it battles. It was much more like a massacre. The Ainu lost tenthousands of people. The army of Japan lost only one soldier. Shakushain himself was slain without even holding a weapon. It was endgame for the Ainu.
Their language and culture was banned. Today only a few thousand Ainu are left. They are marginalized and ignored in Japan and most in the world never heared about them. In 2011 our Emperor visited them for the first time.
It was the first time at all since 1800 years, that a japanese emperor did meet with Ainu leaders. It brought them some attention.
It is a really interesting but not well known fact of our history and i find it very interesting. But i think the Ainu have no bright future. They are only a few and their numbers decline more and more.