The Nirai Kanainu-kai organization is formed to demand the return of over 219 Okinawan remains taken from Okinawa

The Nirai Kanainu-kai organization is formed to demand the return of over 219 Okinawan remains taken from Okinawa

Members of the Nirai Kanainu-kai forming an action plan to return excavated remains to Okinawa. November 23, Ginowan

November 24, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Nirai Kanainu-kai organization (co-represented by Masako Kameya, Takeshi Tamaki, Shisei Toma, and Yasukatsu Matsushima) was launched November 23 to demand the return of remains that had been excavated from graves in Okinawa and Amami by anthropologists for research purposes before World War II.

At a meeting held in Ginowan, the group reported that there were at least 219 remains that were removed, and they confirmed a plan of action for getting them returned.

The information was gathered from documents such as ones from Yasukatsu Matsushima, (Ryukoku University professor), the head plaintiff in the Ryukyu remains return lawsuit filed against Kyoto University.

The group is expanding upon the existing effort to repatriate the remains taken from the Mumujana tomb in Nakijin to include the entire Ryukyu archipelago. Moreover, there is documentation that suggests that there may be over 300 remains that were excavated, and the organization foresees the number of remains they will demand be returned will grow.

The organization is learning from the successes of the Ainu organization Kotan-no-kai, who were able to retrieve similarly excavated remains from Hokkaido University, and in addition to demanding the return of the remains from the former imperial universities that are keeping them, filing freedom of information requests and trying to garner support for their lawsuit.

If the remains are returned, the organization will re-entomb the remains adhering to the proper rituals and ceremonies.

Already, 63 remains that were being kept at Taiwan University were returned to Okinawa in March.

It is believed that Kyoto University is storing at least 26 remains, and they are currently battling with the university to have them returned. As there are also remains that were taken from the Amami region, the “Amami Mishima Cooperation Organization for the return of remains stored at Kyoto University” is demanding their return.

The Nirai Kanainu-kai have also identified remains that were taken by anthropologists from towns such as Nakagusuku, Tomigusuku, an Yonaguni based on documentation, and are requesting the return of the remains to each location.

Professor Matsushima, who joined the meeting via Skype commented, “The remains that were returned from Taiwan University (being stored at the Okinawa Center for Archeological Cultural Assets) are being used for research. In order to request a return that is true to the meaning of the word, we need an organization that can perform the proper rituals.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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