The Japan Times
May 27, 2002

Archaeological probe dismisses 'findings' of disgraced Fujimura

The Japanese Archaeological Association on Sunday concluded that none of the alleged stone tools that disgraced archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura said date back to the Paleolithic period have any academic value.

The decision by the association's special investigative committee, announced at the group's general assembly held in Tokyo, comes 19 months after the shocking revelation that Fujimura, once a star amateur archaeologist, fabricated his finds at what were claimed to be ancient ruins in northern Japan.

The association has since re-examined ruins that Fujimura, 52, a former deputy director of the Tohoku Paleolithic Institute, was involved in excavating.

A report submitted at Sunday's meeting by the committee, headed by Meiji University professor Mitsunori Tozawa, said it is "impossible to use (Fujimura's finds) as academic materials."

The report provides a final academic conclusion to the scandal, which broke in November 2000, judging that Fujimura's purported finds dating back to the Old Stone Age were bogus.

Some of his alleged major finds — touted as the oldest ever found in Japan — were once mentioned in school textbooks, but have been deleted from newer editions since the scandal came to light.

According to the report, the committee, in cooperation with local governments and other institutions, reexamined Fujimura's finds and re-excavated nine of the alleged ancient ruins that he had worked on.

In none of the ruins, no new evidence linking the sites to the Paleolithic period was found, while the committee found traces that the alleged finds had been fabricated. In the re-excavation of the Kamitakamori ruins in the town of Tsukidate, Miyagi Prefecture — the scene of the first Fujimura fabrication that was exposed by the media — the committee unearthed three stone tools at the site, but all three pieces showed signs that they had been artificially planted there.

The committee also inspected the Zazaragi ruins, also in Miyagi Prefecture. Fujimura's reported discoveries at the ruins had Japan's archaeological world declaring that remnants from the earlier Paleolithic period — dating back more than 30,000 years — existed in Japan.

However, the layer from which Fujimura's alleged finds were excavated was an accumulation of pyroclastic flow, which would have been uninhabitable for humans, the report said.

In addition, inspections of about 1,200 pieces from alleged finds from 24 ruins excavated by Fujimura showed that some stone tools supposedly discovered by Fujimura showed traces of metal or black dirt that theoretically would never be observed on the surface of finds from the Paleolithic period.

Others turned out to be natural stones that simply resembled stone tools, the report said.

The once-acclaimed Fujimura confessed to fabricating his finds after a Mainichi Shimbun reporter caught him on videotape burying supposed artifacts at the Kamitakamori site.

Initially, he argued his finds were real except for those excavated at Kamitakamori and another site in Hokkaido. But he later admitted, through a probe by the archaeological association, that he had fabricated finds at 42 sites throughout the country.

According to the Cultural Affairs Agency, Fujimura is known to have taken part in the excavation of 186 sites in nine prefectures.

Fujimura's scandal also shed light on the sloppiness of archaeological studies in Japan, where doubts raised by some researchers about his reported finds had been ignored by mainstream scholars.

Well before Fujimura's fabrication was revealed, some researchers had pointed out that the shapes of some of his stone tools were "unnatural."

However, little attention had been paid to such doubts as the archaeological community was buoyed by a series of spectacular discoveries by Fujimura, who was once touted as the "Hand of God."

"On behalf of the archaeological association, I would like to extend my heartfelt apology," said Ken Amakasu, chairman of the association, after the report was unveiled at the Sunday meeting. "We will do our utmost to regain the public's trust."