Genetic DNA of Okinawan people similar to people in the main islands of Japan

Genetic DNA of Okinawan people similar to people in the main islands of Japan

Cluster dendrogram

September 17, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

Modern people living in the Ryukyu Islands are genetically more closely related to those in the main islands of Japan than people in Taiwan or mainland China, a research team has found. The researchers announced their findings on September 16 after analyzing nuclear genomic DNA. The team consists of Takehiro Sato Ph.D, a research scholar of the University of the Ryukyus, who specializes in medical research, an associate professor of the university Ryosuke Kimura and researchers of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics of Kitasato University. According to the researchers, people started moving from the Ryukyu islands to Miyako and Yaeyama islands 10,000 years ago. The team concluded the Pinza-Abu Cave Man, which was found in Miyako Island and dated to 26,000 years ago, and the Shiraho saonetabaru Cave Man, dated to 20,000 years ago, of Ishigaki island, are not the main ancestors of the people living in Miyako and Yaeyama today.

Previous research results have also shown the people of the Ryukyu Islands are more similar to those in the main islands of Japan than mainland China or Taiwan from bones and DNA analysis of remains. However, this new analysis of nuclear genomic DNA got the same results.

The research results could help further study of the origin of the people of the Ryukyu Islands.

The team collected DNA from a few hundred of people from the main islands of Okinawa, Miyako and Yaeyama islands. The researchers analyzed 600,000 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in the human genome. The results showed the native people of the Ryukyu islands and those of Taiwan are in different genetic groups. According to the research results, the people of the Yaeyama islands are genetically not related to those living in Taiwan despite their geographical proximity.

A representative of the team said, “We analyzed the migrations of people of the Ryukyu Islands and Han in China after the Jomon Period. We found that it is highly possible that Minatogawa Man is not the main ancestor of the people in the Okinawa islands.” The researchers said further investigation was needed.

(English translation by T&CT)

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