Ryukyu Dynasty Descendants Sue Kyoto Univ. over Remains


Kyoto, Dec. 5 (Jiji Press)--Descendants of the founder of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had ruled southwestern Japan islands until the Okinawa prefectural government was installed nearly 140 years ago, have sued Kyoto University, demanding the university return remains of their ancestors it holds and pay damages.

The plaintiffs, including two descendants of the family of the first Sho Dynasty dating to the 15th century and a university professor from Okinawa, filed the lawsuit with Kyoto District Court on Tuesday.

They allege that Takeo Kanaseki, an anthropologist and then assistant professor at Kyoto Imperial University, the predecessor of Kyoto University, brought back without permission remains of at least 59 people related to the dynasty from graves in Okinawa for research purposes in 1928-29.

The graves include Mumujanabaka in the village of Nakijinson. The university currently keeps remains for 26 such people as specimen, according to their complaint.

The plaintiffs claim that the descendants are designated successors to properties for religious services, including tombs and remains of their ancestors, under the Civil Code and that the university is illegally possessing the remains while rejecting return requests.

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Jiji Press