Okinawan remains taken early in the Showa era returned from Taiwan University

Okinawan remains taken early in the Showa era returned from Taiwan University

Okinawan remains being returned from Taiwan University individually packaged in cardboard boxes. March 18, the Okinawa Archaeological Foundation Center in Nishihara (Image provided by the Okinawa Board of Education)

March 21, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

The remains of 63 Okinawans taken from the island by an Imperial University anthropologist in the early Showa era, were finally returned to Okinawa March 20 from the National Taiwan University, where they were being held.

According to the Okinawa Board of Education (BoE), who received the remains, the remains are being kept at the Okinawa Archaeological Foundation Center.

The BoE say that the remains are being preserved as historical data, and they are “currently examining,” the possibility on doing analysis of the remains.

There are currently no plans to display the remains for the general public.

The returned remains appear to contain the remains that were excavated from the Mumujana tomb in Nakijin for research purposes by Takeo Kanaseki in 1929.

Yasukatsu Matsushima (Ryukoku University), a representative for the Ryukyu Ancestral Remains Return Committee, has indicated that since the remains were excavated without the understanding of the descendants the action was illegal, and says that in order to restore dignity to the remains they must be re-entombed at their original burial site.

However, the BoE representatives have stated, “We have not yet given thought to re-entombing the remains.”

The remains were sent from Taiwan with each remain packaged in its own cardboard box, and they landed in Okinawa on March 18.

Currently, the remains are being stored at the Okinawa Archaeological Foundation Center in the boxes in which they were sent.

The BoE is looking into moving the remains into wooden boxes, as well as trying to determine the appropriate climate conditions for preserving the remains.

A representative from the BoE said, “Since they only just arrived, first we want to make sure they are properly preserved.”

In addition to Taiwan, some of the remains excavated from various locations in Okinawa by Kanaseki are also being stored at Kyoto University.

Since it is unclear whether or not Kyoto University will return the remains, last year in December researchers filed a lawsuit in Kyoto demanding the return of the remains.

Remains excavated for research purposes are now being returned one after the other from universities and museums all over the world.

Even domestically, Ainu remains kept in places such as Hokkaido University are being returned.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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