The Japan Times, March 19, 1999

Yayoi linked to Yangtze area

DNA tests reveal similarities to early wet-rice farmers

Some of the first wet-rice farmers in Japan might have migrated from the lower basin of China's Yangtze River more than 2,000 years ago, Japanese and Chinese researchers said Thursday.
This was suggested by DNA tests conducted by the researchers that showed genetic similarities between human remains from the Yayoi Period found in southwestern Japan and the early Han Dynasty found in China's central Jiangsu Province, Satoshi Yamaguchi told reporters.
People who introduced irrigation techniques to the Japanese archipelago in the Yayoi Period (250 B.C.-300) were believed to have come to Japan either from the Korean Peninsula across the Tsushima Strait, or from northern China across the Yellow Sea.
The latest findings, however, bolster another theory suggesting the origin of the Yayoi people was an area south of the Yangtze, which is believed to be the birthplace of irrigated rice cultivation.
Yamaguchi, a researcher at Japan's National Science Museum, said the researchers compared Yayoi remains found in Yamaguchi and Fukuoka prefectures with those from early Han (202 B.C.-8) in Jiangsu in a three-year project begun in 1996.
The researchers found many similarities between the skulls and limbs of Yayoi people and the Jiangsu remains.
Two Jiangsu skulls showed spots where the front teeth had been pulled, a practice common in Japan in the Yayoi and preceding Jomon Period.
But the most persuasive findings resulted from tests revealing that genetic samples from three of 36 Jiangsu skeletons also matched part of the DNA base arrangements of samples from the Yayoi remains, the scientists said.