Depending on the classification system used, Ainu could be considered a moribund language or a critically endangered language. As of 2016, Ethnologue lists Ainu as class 8b: “nearly extinct.” It has been endangered since before the 1960s. Most of the approximately 15,000 ethnic Ainu in Japan speak only Japanese. During the 1980s, in the town of Nibutani (part of Biratori, Hokkaido), where many of the remaining native speakers live, there were 100 speakers, of whom only fifteen used the language every day.
Today, there are only around ten native speakers remaining, all of whom are at least 80 years old. There are also some semi-speakers who are at least 60 years old. Most of these speakers live in southwestern Hokkaido.[6