-Caveat Lector-

>From Int'l Herald Tribune

Paris, Saturday, April 3, 1999
A Dig Yields Clues To Japan's Origins
Light on Jomon Era Instills Pride

By Nicholas D. Kristof New York Times Service

AOMORI, Japan - When he was a boy, Tomihiro Yoshizaki used to dig for
arrowheads in some strange mounds of earth outside this city in northern
Now those mounds have been excavated, resolving crucial mysteries about the
ancient hunter-gatherers who lived here 5,000 years ago. Just one mystery
remains: To what extent are Mr. Yoshizaki and other modern Japanese
descended from those ancient people?
The origins of the Japanese people remain a much-debated puzzle, but part of
the puzzle is being pieced together here on the vast archeological site near
Aomori, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) north of Tokyo. Local people like
Mr. Yoshizaki, 45, had long known about the mounds and the artifacts. But
they were investigated only in 1992, when surveyors preparing to build a
baseball stadium uncovered evidence that this was once a village of the
Jomon people, who lived in Japan from 10,000 B.C. to about 300 B.C.
Now the site is perhaps the most important archeological dig in Japan,
attracting a half-million tourists a year and shedding new light on
prehistoric life here. Moreover, even after filling 40,000 boxes of
material, archeologists say that they have at least 15 more years' work
before they complete their investigations here.
''The city of Aomori had very little history,'' Mr. Yoshizaki mused. ''But
now, all of a sudden, we have a great deal of history, and we're very proud
of it.''
The excavations have aroused enormous interest in Japan, where archeology is
a national craze. Japan spends more than $1 billion annually in public funds
to excavate some 13,000 sites each year, archeology books become best
sellers, and leading experts often appear on television.
The issues are in some ways political, as well as archeological, because of
the rivalries in East Asia. North Korea claims that it, not Africa, is where
humans first appeared. South Koreans believe that it was their emigrants who
brought civilization to Japan and that a Korean clan probably founded the
Japanese imperial family. Chinese suggest that Xu Fu, an ancient Chinese
envoy who was sent to Japan in the third century B.C., became the first
Japanese emperor, Jimmu.
These theories have not been a big hit in Japan. But the underlying
competition may be one reason for the pride in new findings that the Jomon
people, who lived in Japan even earlier, were more sophisticated than
anybody had expected. Jomon sites have been found all over Japan, but the
excavations here have been the most startling. The first discovery was of
six enormous holes in the ground with the remains of wooden pillars one
meter thick, evidently the base for some huge structure.
''This stunned people, and not only because it raised questions about how
they cut and dragged the logs,'' said Yasuhiro Okada, an archeologist at the
site. ''But also because it suggests a certain population and level of
technology and social organization. This all showed much greater skills than
we had assumed for these hunter-gatherers, and it was a stunning discovery
for most Japanese.''
Further investigation showed that the site was a settled village with
hundreds of inhabitants and separate cemeteries for children and adults, and
that its people had dabbled in agriculture by planting chestnuts, millet and
other domesticated plants. There apparently was trade, for the dig turned up
jade from 650 kilometers to the south and obsidian from the northern island
of Hokkaido.
The traditional view had been that virtually all culture originated in Korea
and China and then spread to Japan. But now some Japanese archeologists
point to evidence that some innovations went the other way. They suggest
that buckwheat farming, lacquerware-making and other innovations originated
in Japan and then traveled to Korea and China.
''We know that we have learned many things from Korea and China,'' said
Makoto Sahara, a historian and director-general of the National Museum of
Japanese History. ''But not all things.''
There is a complication, though. While modern Japanese feel pride in Jomon
achievements, analysis of skeletons suggests that the Jomon did not look
like modern Japanese.
Instead, they had features that made them look more like Caucasians, and
they seem to have resembled the Ainu, an ethnic group that still lives in
tiny numbers in northern Japan. In the museum here in Aomori, Japanese
tourists wandered by exhibits about the Jomon and gazed affectionately at
pictures of what their Jomon ancestors are believed to have looked like -
even though the only one in the room who looked much like the pictures was
an American.
One theory has been that waves of immigrants from China and Korea quickly
displaced the Jomon people and their culture around 300 B.C. They ushered in
the Yayoi period, an era which emphasized rice paddy cultivation and whose
people looked more like today's Japanese.
In the last decade, a growing body of skeletal, DNA and linguistic analysis
has suggested that modern Japanese are the product of both Jomon people and
the Yayoi immigrants from China and Korea - and perhaps other population
infusions as well. Satoshi Horai, a scholar, argues that modern Japanese are
a mix of about 35 percent Jomon and 65 percent Yayoi. That would mean that
Japanese are descended mostly from Chinese and Koreans but also have an
important Jomon component.
''The recent DNA studies clearly indicate the close genetic relationship
between the Japanese on the main islands and the Koreans in particular,''
said Keiichi Omoto, a leading scholar.
Scholars note that despite the widespread perception that Japanese are
homogeneous, there is considerable regional variation in appearance.
Japanese in northern provinces tend to have rounder eyes, more body hair and
wider faces, traits that may suggest a bit more Jomon heritage. A museum at
the Aomori site offers a computer screen to advise visitors on the
proportion of their blood that comes from the Jomon, based on their eyes,
body hair and other characteristics.
''People in northern Japan can be 60 to 80 percent of Jomon origin, while
those from western or southern Japan are 40 percent Jomon or less,'' said
Mr. Okada.

Republic of Korea)

R.S. on contrasting views and stands of Germany and Japan toward past
Pyongyang, April 2 (KCNA ) -- Rodong Sinmun today carries its commentator's
article entitled "On Japan's irresponsibility, shamelessness and immorality"
which shows the contrasting views and attitudes of Germany and Japan toward
the past history. The article says: Both Germany and Japan are responsible
for terrible disasters inflicted upon humankind. However, they are clean
different from each other in their admission and views on this. The German
government officially admitted its responsibilities for the past war and has
apologized and compensated for what it did in the war. Germany admitted that
its government and people should take responsibilities for the war started
by Nazi Germany and prohibited practices of their denial by law. The German
government has made dlrs. 60 to 80 billion compensations since the second
world war ceased. As voices demanding compensation got louder, it announced
in February that a "fund for commemoration, responsibility and future" aimed
at compensating victims would be set up. Facts eloquently show that Germany
is making sincere efforts to act as a full-fledged member nation of the
international community by winning confidence from other peoples and
promoting reconciliation, free of guilty conscience, on the basis of
completely resolving its past. This stands out in sharp contrast to what
Japan has done. Compared with such a sincere stand and attitude of Germany
toward the past history, Japan's attitude and stance toward its past crimes
are too irresponsible and shameless. Japan's responsibilities for calamities
inflicted upon humankind cannot be said to be lighter than those of Germany.
On the contrary, they are more serious. The Japanese imperialists committed
unimaginably heinous crimes against the Asian peoples including those of
China and other southeast Asian countries. Worse still, they illegally
occupied Korea and enforced the colonial rule for nearly half a century. In
this period, they forcibly drafted more than six million Korea n people,
killed as many as one million, reduced nearly 200,000 women to sex slaves
and destroyed or looted enormous resources and cultural assets from Korea .
Indeed, their crimes were so monstrous and cruel in human history. More than
half a century has passed since then. But, the Japanese authorities still
refuse to admit the history of aqgression and crimes. Japan has negated its
history woven with murder and plunder. Not content with this, it is making
no scruple to justify and beautify this history. At the utmost, it uttered
nothing but "owabi" in a bid to deceive and flout the world public. Such
jugglery of words cannot substitute for the expression of apology for its
past crimes. Nothing similar to Germany's views and admission of the past
history can be found in Japan. Worse still, Japan lags far behind Germany in
this aspect. Why is Japan so adamantly and shamelessly refusing to admit,
apologize and compensate for the past crimes? It is not ascribable to its
deep-seated evil habits but to its ill-gotten intention to repeat the past
history of aggression and crimes. Japan has pushed ahead with preparations
for reinvasion on a full scale, swearing revenge for its defeat in the war.
At present, it is hellbent on gratifying its ambition with the strength it
has cultivated for more than 50 years. Another cunning estimation of the
Japanese authorities is that if they get along refusing to admit the past
history woven with aggression and crimes and apologize and make up for them,
its past will be buried in oblivion of history or fade from the memory of
the people any time. No matter how many years may pass, the wrath of the
Korea n and other Asian peoples against the Japanese imperialists can never
be allayed. If it had followed the precedent of Germany even a little
although its act was not on its own initiative, Japan would not have been
criticised by international public for its irresponsibility, shamelessness
and immorality that have reached their height. Japan must clearly know that
any country which refuses to discharge its responsibility and moral
obligation under international law cannot win international confidence nor
have any qualification to exist on the earth. The only way for Japan to win
international confidence and live in peace as others is to make proper
compensation for its past. Such foolish people as the South Korean puppets
might pardon Japan for its crimes for a small amount of money. But, the
Korea n people will not pardon Japan for refusing to liquidate its past. The
Korean people will certainly make Japan pay for the humiliation,
misfortunes, sufferings and disasters imposed upon them by the Japanese
imperialists generation after generation.


The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking
new landscapes but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust
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the absolute rejection of authority. -Thomas Huxley
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