Researchers to establish a new association to request return of Ryukyuan remains

Researchers to establish a new association to request return of Ryukyuan remains

In Unten, Nakijin Village, multiple remains were brought out by anthropologists and not returned to Mumujana grave

June 1, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Takahiro Miyagi

In June, researchers from Okinawa and Kansai will set up a new organization to tackle the issue of human remains not yet being returned to Okinawa. Anthropologists brought at least 26 bodies of the Ryukyuans out of Mumujana grave in Nakijin Village and have kept them in universities such as Kyoto University for more than 75 years. In collaboration with researchers in Taiwan, the association will encourage information disclosure and return of the remains to Okinawa. It will request this from universities which kept the remains such as the National Taiwan University and Kyoto University. The organization will hold symposiums to seek out public opinion on the matter.
The organization was set up by Professor Yasukatsu Matsushima of Ryukoku University, Professor Ichiro Tomiyama of Doshisha University, and Professor Takeshi Komagome of Kyoto University. On May 5 at 4 p.m., a symposium will be hosted by the Amami-Okinawa-Ryukyu Research Center at Doshisha University, and Professor Matsushima will announce the establishment of the research group.
Matsushima said, “We asked the Kyoto University General Museum for a brief review of the remains and answers to some questions, but they were all rejected. There is no satisfactory reason for the rejection. We will discuss this issue further with researchers interested in this subject and supporters of indigenous rights restoration. We would like to take the next action.”

Professor Yasukatsu Matsushima

The remains of the Ryukyuans were brought out by anthropologist Takeo Kanaseki, who was an associate professor at Kyoto Imperial University from 1928 to 1929. In 2004, as a part of the wooden coffin restoration project of Mumujana grave, the Nakijin Village Board of Education confirmed that 26 bodies were kept at Kyoto University. According to the report of the Board of Education, 33 bodies are also stored in the National Taiwan University.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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