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The Ainu or the Aynu (Ainu: アィヌ, Aynu, Аину; Japanese: アイヌ, Ainu; Russian: Áйны, Áĭny), also known as the Ezo (蝦夷) in historical Japanese texts, are an East Asian ethnic group indigenous to Japan, the original inhabitants of Hokkaidō[6] (and formerly North-Eastern Honshū) and nearby Russia (Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, Khabarovsk Krai and the Kamchatka Peninsula).[7][8][9]

Official estimates place the total Ainu population of Japan at 25,000. Unofficial estimates place the total population at 200,000 or higher, as the near-total assimilation of the Ainu into Japanese society has resulted in many individuals with Ainu heritage having no knowledge of their ancestry.[1]