National

Archaeologist faked finds at 42 sites

Kyodo

An investigative committee of the Japanese Archaeological Association on Sunday presented a report saying that an archaeologist fabricated finds at 42 sites, unveiling the full scope of a scandal that has forced experts to begin a review of Japan’s Stone Age history.

The committee’s report comes nearly a year after Shinichi Fujimura, former deputy director of the Tohoku Paleolithic Institute in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, confessed in November 2000 that he had planted the stone tools he claimed he found at the ruins of Kamitakamori in the town of Tsukidate, Miyagi Prefecture and Soshin Fudozaka, in Shintotsukawa, Hokkaido.

According to the committee, which held a news conference after the end of the association’s two-day conference in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, Sunday to explain the fabrications, Fujimura, 51, admitted to faking discoveries at 42 sites.

Of these, Fujimura said he had “fabricated everything” at the ruins of Sodehara 3 in Yamagata Prefecture, and Harasekasahari and Ittouchimatsubayama, both in Fukushima Prefecture, according to the committee.

Committee chairman Mitsunori Tozawa explained that “those were Fujimura’s words,” and declined to comment on whether the researcher meant to say that the ruins themselves were bogus. He added that the committee would continue to cautiously check the ruins in question, stressing that at this point, everything was just based on Fujimura’s confessions.

Tozawa conducted several interviews with Fujimura between May and September in the presence of the disgraced researcher’s lawyers and doctors, as he has been undergoing medical treatment.

During the association’s gathering earlier in the day, Tozawa explained how the inverviews were conducted and read out the contents of his committee’s report.

“Confessions do not automatically mean evidence,” he said, but admitted that the scale of Fujimura’s revelations saw him lose his sense of calmness. Tozawa added that he would like to see this problem serve as a lesson to the nation’s archaeology field in the new century.

Ever since his initial confession, which came after a reporter secretly caught him on videotape burying supposed artifacts at a site, the nation’s archaeological experts have been reviewing Fujimura’s finds from various sites, mostly in northern and northeastern Japan.

During the weekend gathering of the association, the results of those reviews were also presented. In many cases, they found reason to question whether his discoveries were bona fide.

Among Fujimura’s supposed discoveries was what he had claimed was the world’s oldest stone tool, found broken up and its parts dispersed separately in Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures.

In December 1997, Fujimura announced that the two pieces of the implement, supposedly discovered at the Sodehara 3 site in Obanazawa, Yamagata Prefecture, and the Nakajimayama site in Shikama, Miyagi Prefecture — which are about 30 km apart — were found to match each other.

He admitted last November to burying stone tools from his personal collection at Kamitakamori and at Soshin Fudozaka. The once-acclaimed Fujimura said he had given in to “temptation,” but denied that he had planted finds at any other sites.

With the announcement of the extent of Fujimura’s fabrications, the archaeological society said it also intends to inspect the sites in question with the cooperation of the municipalities and prefectures concerned to verify the authenticity of every find.