National Taiwan University announces intention to return 63 Ryukyuan remains excavated from Nakajin

National Taiwan University announces intention to return 63 Ryukyuan remains excavated from Nakajin

On August 10 at 10:00 a.m. in front of Camp Schwab’s gate in Henoko, Nago City, protestors hold a minute of silence for the three U.S. Marines who died in the August 5 Osprey crash.

August 5, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Takahiro Miyagi

National Taiwan University announced August 4 that they would continue holding the remains of 63 Ryukyu people at their medical school’s physical anthropology laboratory, and indicated its intention to return the remains to Okinawa.

This was in response to a question by the Chinese Ryukyu Study Society, which comprises Taiwanese and Okinawan researchers. However, the university did not indicate a timeline or destination for the remains, so researches plan on continuing to lobby the school.

The remains, and appear to have been excavated in 1928-1929 by researchers led by anthropologist Takeo Kanaseki (1897-1983) from Mumujana Grave in Nakijin.

Essays and books written by researchers have made it clear that scholars from the former Imperial Universities excavated the Ryukyuan remains, and are being kept in not only Taiwan University but also Kyoto University.

However, university authorities had not made it clear the fact that they had the remains, and this is the first time they announced their intention to return them.

The Chinese Ryukyu Study Society coordinated with Professor Yasukatsu Matsushima, representing the “Research Association for the Repatriation of Ryukyu Remains,” and have continued to lobby Taiwan University for the return of the remains.

According to Professor Matsushima, in addition to Ryukyuan remains, the Chinese Ryukyu Study Society have also been demanding the return of the remains of aboriginal Taiwanese remains.

Kao Chin Su-mei, the senator representing the Ayatal aboriginal people in the Legislative Yuan (national parliament) has also been requesting the return of her ancestors’ remains from the Taiwan Department of Education.

Professor Matsushima said, “The Department of Education is obligated to respond to the senator, and Taiwan University should consider indicating their intention of returning the remains. In recent years, there has been an international tide, starting with the West, of aboriginal remains being returned, such as progress with the return of Ainu remains.

However, it remains unclear if the remains will actually be returned, so we must continue our efforts.”

Both organizations plan to continue coordinating on lobbying former Imperial Universities for the return of Ryukyuan and Taiwan aboriginal remains.

In mid-August, they plan on visiting Kyoto University to inquire about the statues of the Taiwan aboriginal remains being kept there, and to ask for their return.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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