Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Japan's royal tombs opened for inspection
Japan's royal tombs are to be opened to more thorough investigation by researchers for the first time. The move should re-invigorate studies into the country's ancient history, which have so far depended mostly on legends and myths.

But the change in the rules still won't allow any excavation, nor the inspection of any bodies. It won't, therefore, solve the big mysteries — such as which emperor lies in which tomb, or whether the imperial family has remained purely Japanese or, as some have claimed, been influenced by Korean and Chinese bloodlines.

The Imperial Household Agency, which tightly controls the privacy of the royal family, made the decision in late December. The move follows a 2005 petition from 15 academic associations, including archaeologists, zoologists and botanists, to open up 11 royal tombs.