The Japan Times
March 11, 2001

Allegations of faked findings spur archaeologist's suicide

OITA (Kyodo) A renowned archaeologist was found hanged Friday night at his home in the town of Hinode, Oita Prefecture, following media reports alleging that findings from a dig he led were faked, police said Saturday.

Mitsuo Kagawa, 78, a professor emeritus at Beppu University in the prefecture, was found by his wife Toshiko, 77. Police are treating the case as suicide as three notes were found at the scene.

In a news conference Saturday, Kagawa's relatives told reporters the notes revealed Kagawa's grief over media reports questioning his finds.

"I am not guilty of any wrongdoing in my work. (And yet my findings) were written about as if they were fake and I was slandered. Upon my word as a scholar, I would like my death to be a sign of protest," he wrote.

Hiroshi, Kagawa's 45-year-old son, said, "Although there may be criticism against my father's academic mistakes, I wish (the media would) stop writing sensational articles about them."

In 1962, Kagawa led an excavation in Hijiridaki cave in Oita Prefecture, the only grotto in Japan where the team claims ancient human bones and stone tools from the Paleolithic era were found together.

But the university announced Tuesday that the findings included objects dating from a later period. A weekly magazine reported in January that the findings are suspected of being faked.

Kagawa recently told his family he felt exhausted after receiving harassing calls at his home concerning the report.

A native of Tochigi Prefecture, Kagawa graduated from Nihon University and became a professor at Beppu University in 1958. He served as president of the university and also as head of the Archaeological Society of Oita.