The Japan Times
May 28, 2002

ARCHAEOLOGICAL DILEMMA

Site of faked finds may be cut from historic list

The education ministry will ask a panel to determine whether to revoke the historical site designation of an archaeological site honored for finds that were later discovered to have been faked, vice education minister Motoyuki Ono said Monday.

"Based on the investigation of the Japan Archaeology Association, we want to ask the Cultural Affairs Council to decide on the matter after probing the case as administrators," Ono said.

The site — the Zazaragi remains in Miyagi Prefecture — is just one of many archaeological digs where archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura is alleged to have planted ancient objects and then passed them off as discoveries.

Fujimura, a former deputy director of the Tohoku Paleolithic Institute, has admitted to fabricating finds in at least 40 sites in seven different prefectures.

He first confessed to faking discoveries in November 2000, saying he had buried stone tools from his personal collection in two sites. The remains and relics Fujimura allegedly "unearthed" date back about 30,000 years ago to the early to mid-Paleolithic Era.

Ono's remarks followed the decision Sunday by a JAA special committee that any remains and relics Fujimura was involved in discovering cannot be considered valid academic finds.

The Zazaragi remains are seen as a key site in proving an archaeological theory that Japan was populated during the Paleolithic Era. Investigations into the authenticity of the ruins are still under way.

Ono also suggested the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will trust its own judgment more when designating national historical sites.

"To prevent a recurrence, the Cultural Affairs Agency has to respond to the task of designating historical sites appropriately even when opinions among academics are split," Ono said.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo metropolitan education board concluded Monday that archaeological finds that Fujimura helped "discover" in Inagi, western Tokyo, are fake.

The remains were initially thought to date back about 50,000 years to the middle of Paleolithic Era, but the board later determined they were fabricated due to the unnatural appearance of the stone tools.