Genetic and anthropometric studies on Japanese people

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In population genetics, research has been made to study the genetic origins of the modern Japanese people in Japan.

Generally, the skulls of Japanese people are


A common origin of Japanese has been proposed by a number of scholars since Arai Hakuseki first brought up the theory and Fujii Sadamoto, a pioneer of modern archeology in Japan, also treated the issue in 1781.[1] But after the end of World War II, Kotondo Hasebe and Hisashi Suzuki claimed that the origin of Japanese people was not the newcomers in the Yayoi period (300 BCE – 300 CE) but the people in the Jōmon period.[2] However, Kazuro Hanihara announced a new racial admixture theory in 1984.[2] Hanihara also announced the theory "dual structure model" in English in 1991.[3] According to Hanihara, modern Japanese lineages began with Jōmon people, who moved into the Japanese archipelago during Paleolithic times from their homeland in southeast Asia. Hanihara believed that there was a second wave of immigrants, from northeast Asia to Japan from the Yayoi period. Following a population expansion in Neolithic times, these newcomers then found their way to the Japanese archipelago sometime during the Yayoi period. As a result, miscegenation was common in the island regions of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Honshū, but did not prevail in the outlying islands of Okinawa and Hokkaidō, and the Ryukyuan and Ainu people continued to dominate there. Mark J. Hudson claimed that the main ethnic image of Japanese people was biologically and linguistically formed from 400 BCE to 1,200 CE.[2] Currently, the most well-regarded theory is that present-day Japanese are descendants of both the indigenous Jōmon people and the immigrant Yayoi people.

On the other hand, a research in October 2009 by the National Museum of Nature and Science et al. concluded that the Minatogawa Man, who was found in Okinawa and was regarded as evidence that the Jōmon people were not a homogenous group and that these southern Jōmon came to Japan via a southern route and had a slender and more neo-Mongoloid face unlike the northern Jōmon.[4] Hiroto Takamiya of the Sapporo University suggested that the people of Kyushu immigrated to Okinawa between the 10th and 12th centuries CE.[5]

A genetic autosomal study on the Jomon people showed that they are a unique group of the East Asian Mongoloid cluster and that they had genetic relations to modern Siberian and Native American samples.[6]

A 2011 study by Sean Lee and Toshikazu Hasegawa[7] reported that a common origin of Japonic languages had originated around 2,182 years before present.[8]

A study conducted in 2017 by Ulsan University in Korea presented evidence that the genetic origin of Koreans is closer to that of southeast Asians.[9] This was additionally supported by Japanese research conducted in 1999 that supported the theory that the origin of the Yayoi people was in southern China near the Yangtze river.[10] This study further supports the already accepted admixture theory between the Jōmon and Yayoi populations.

Glacier cover in Japan at the height of the last glaciation about 20,000 years ago

The origins of the Jōmon and Yayoi people have often been a subject of dispute, and a recent Japanese publisher[11] has divided the potential routes of the people living on the Japanese archipelago as follows:

  • Aboriginals that have been living in Japan for more than 10,000 years. (Without geographic distinction, which means, the group of people living in islands from Hokkaido to Okinawa may all be considered to be Aboriginals in this case.)
  • Immigrants from the northern route (北方ルート in Japanese) including the people from the Korean Peninsula, Mainland China and Sakhalin Island.
  • Immigrants from the southern route (南方ルート in Japanese) including the people from the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and in some context, India.

However, a clear consensus has not been reached.[12][13][14][15][16]

A recent genome research (Takahashi et al. 2019) shows that modern Japanese (Yamato) do not have much Jōmon ancestry at all. Nuclear genome analysis of Jōmon samples and modern Japanese samples show strong differences.[17]

Recent studies have revealed that Jomon people are considerably genetically different from any other population, including modern-day Japanese.

— Takahashi et al. 2019, (Adachi et al., 2011; Adachi and Nara, 2018)



Stephen Pheasant (1986), who taught anatomy, biomechanics and ergonomics at the Royal Free Hospital and the University College, London, said that Far Eastern people have proportionately shorter lower limbs than European and black African people. Pheasant said that the proportionately short lower limbs of Far Eastern people is a difference that is most characterized in Japanese people, less characterized in Korean and Chinese people, and least characterized in Vietnamese and Thai people.[18][19]

Hirofumi Matsumura et al. (2001) and Hideo Matsumoto et al. (2009) said that the Japanese and Vietnamese people are regarded to be a mix of Northeast Asians and Southeast Asians who are related to today Austronesian peoples. But the amount of northern genetics is higher in Japanese people compared to Vietnamese who are closer to other Southeast Asians (Thai or Bamar people).[20][21]


Ashley Montagu (1989) said that the "Mongoloid skull generally, whether Chinese or Japanese, has been rather more neotenized than the Caucasoid or European..."[22]

Ann Kumar (1998) said that Michael Pietrusewsky (1992) said that, in a craniometric study, Borneo, Vietnam, Sulu, Java, and Sulawesi are closer to Japan, in that order, than Mongolian and Chinese populations are close to Japan. In the craniometric study, Michael Pietrusewsky (1992) said that, even though Japanese people cluster with Mongolians, Chinese and Southeast Asians in a larger Asian cluster, Japanese people are more closely aligned with several mainland and island Southeast Asian samples than with Mongolians and Chinese.[23][24]

In a craniometric study, Pietrusewsky (1994) found that the Japanese series, which was a series that spanned from the Yayoi period to modern times, formed a single branch with Korea.[25] Later, Pietrusewsky (1999) found, however, that Korean and Yayoi people were very highly separated in the East Asian cluster, indicating that the connection that Japanese have with Korea would not have derived from Yayoi people.[25]

Park Dae-kyoon et al. (2001) said that distance analysis based on thirty-nine non-metric cranial traits showed that Koreans are closer craniometrically to Kazakhs and Mongols than to the populations in China and Japan.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roy A. Miller, The Japanese Language. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle. 1967, pp. 61-62
  2. ^ a b c Nanta, Arnaud (2008). "Physical Anthropology and the Reconstruction of Japanese Identity in Postcolonial Japan". Social Science Japan Journal. 11 (1): 29–47. doi:10.1093/ssjj/jyn019. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  3. ^ Hanihara, K (1991). "Dual structure model for the population history of the Japanese". Japan Review. 2: 1–33.
  4. ^ Watanabe, Nobuyuki (October 1, 2009). 旧石器時代の「港川1号」、顔ほっそり 縄文人と差. (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  5. ^ Nakamura, Shunsuke (April 16, 2010). 沖縄人のルーツを探る. (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun. p. 2. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  6. ^ Hideaki Kanzawa-Kiriyama, Kirill Kryukov, Timothy A Jinam, Kazuyoshi Hosomichi, Aiko Saso: . In: . Band 62, Nr. 2, 1. September 2016
  7. ^ "メンバー". 13 May 2011. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  8. ^ Lee, Sean; Hasegawa, Toshikazu (2011). "Bayesian phylogenetic analysis supports an agricultural origin of Japonic languages". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 278 (1725): 3662–3669. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.0518. PMC 3203502. PMID 21543358. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  9. ^ (KOCIS), Korean Culture and Information Service. "Researchers discover Korean genetic roots in 7,700-year-old skull :: : The official website of the Republic of Korea". Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  10. ^ "Yayoi linked to Yangtze area". Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  11. ^ from the book, 2009, Japanese published by Heidansha. "日本人". マイペディア. 平凡社. Original sentence:旧石器時代または縄文時代以来、現在の北海道から琉球諸島までの地域に住んだ集団を祖先に持つ。シベリア、樺太、朝鮮半島などを経由する北方ルート、南西諸島などを経由する南方ルートなど複数の渡来経路が考えられる
  12. ^ Tajima, Atsushi; Pan, I.-Hung; Fucharoen, Goonnapa; Fucharoen, Supan; Matsuo, Masafumi; Tokunaga, Katsushi; Juji, Takeo; Hayami, Masanori; Omoto, Keiichi; Horai, Satoshi (1 January 2002). "Three major lineages of Asian Y chromosomes: implications for the peopling of east and southeast Asia". Human Genetics. 110 (1): 80–88. doi:10.1007/s00439-001-0651-9. PMID 11810301. Retrieved 12 December 2017 – via PubMed.
  13. ^ "Japanese Roots - news education science magazines technology science …". 16 March 2006. Archived from the original on 16 March 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  14. ^ Diamond, Jared (June 1998). "Japanese Roots".
  15. ^ "NOVA Online - Lost Tribes of Israel - Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? (3)". Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 25 June 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 June 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  17. ^ Nara, Takashi; Adachi, Noboru; Yoneda, Minoru; Hagihara, Yasuo; Saeki, Fumiko; Koibuchi, Ryoko; Takahashi, Ryohei (2019). "Mitochondrial DNA analysis of the human skeletons excavated from the Shomyoji shell midden site, Kanagawa, Japan". Anthropological Science. 127 (1): 65–72. doi:10.1537/ase.190307. ISSN 0918-7960.
  18. ^ Pheasant, Stephen. (2003). Bodyspace: Anthropometry, ergonomics and the design of work (2nd. ed.). Taylor & Francis. Page 159. Retrieved March 14, 2018, from Google Books.
  19. ^ Buckle, Peter. (1996). Obituary. Work & Stress, 10(3). Page 282. Retrieved March 14, 2018, from link to the PDF document.
  20. ^ Matsumura, Hirofumi et al. (2001). Dental Morphology of the Early Hoabinian, the Neolithic Da But and the Metal Age Dong Son Civilized Peoples in Vietnam. Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie 83(1). Retrieved March 1, 2018, from link to the article's abstract.
  21. ^ MATSUMOTO, Hideo (2009). "The origin of the Japanese race based on genetic markers of immunoglobulin G". Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series B. 85 (2): 69–82. doi:10.2183/pjab.85.69. ISSN 0386-2208.
  22. ^ Montagu, Ashley. (1989). Growing Young (2nd. ed.). Granby, MA: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, inc. ISBN 0-89789-167-8 Retrieved March 13, 2018, from Google Books.
  23. ^ Kumar, Ann. (1998). An Indonesian Component in the Yayoi?: the Evidence of Biological Anthropology. Anthropological Science 106(3). Page 268. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from link to the PDF document.
  24. ^ Pietrusewsky, Michael. (1992). Japan, Asia and the Pacific: A multivariate craniometric investigation. In book: Japanese as a member of the Asian and Pacific populations, Publisher: Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies. International Symposium No. 4., Page 47. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from link to the article.
  25. ^ a b Kumar, Ann. (2009). Globalizing the Prehistory of Japan: Language, Genes and Civilisation. London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. Page 79 & 88. Retrieved January 23, 2018, from link.
  26. ^ Park, Dae Kyoon; Lee, U Young; Lee, Jun Hyun; Choi, Byoung Young; Koh, Ki Seok; Kim, Hee Jin; Park, Sun Joo; Han, Seung Ho (2001). "Non-metric Traits of Korean Skulls". Korean Journal of Physical Anthropology. 14 (2): 117. doi:10.11637/kjpa.2001.14.2.117.