Japanese schools face quandary over mystery human bones

Japanese schools face quandary over mystery human bones
PHOTO: Pixabay

Multiple cases have emerged in which human skeletal specimens have been discovered at schools in Kyushu.

Human bones were discovered at a school in Miyazaki this month, while human bones or specimens believed to be human bones - including specimens currently being examined by police - were found at 10 schools in four prefectures, including Kagoshima and Oita. The schools are at a loss over what to do with the specimens, as they do not know how they obtained them.

On Tuesday, a skeletal specimen found at the Miyazaki prefectural Myojo Shikaku-shien School was confirmed to be human skull, arm and leg bones. The Miyazaki prefectural police informed the school that the case is not criminal in nature.

The school has a vocational department that helps students with visual impairments obtain the credentials needed to take the national examination to become masseurs and other types of professional. Human manikins are used during classes. The human bones are believed to have been "obtained sometime in the early Showa era (1926-1989)" and were previously used for educational purposes.

According to the prefectural police, no legal issues will arise as long as the bones were properly obtained. The principal of the Miyazaki school said it would hold discussions with the prefectural board of education and other relevant entities over what do with the remains.

Similar cases have been reported elsewhere in Kyushu. In July 2016, a teacher at Tsurumaru High School in Kagoshima Prefecture found a human skull while organising objects on a shelf in a biology lecture room. The Kagoshima municipal government cremated the skull and buried it in a municipal cemetery.

More skulls were found at two high schools in Kagoshima Prefectures, one of which was confirmed to be human and was used as a model for sketches during an art class.

Last June, a skull was discovered in a wooden box at Takada High School in Bungotakada, Oita Prefecture. The city government requested anyone with knowledge of the skull to come forward. However, it was unable to obtain information on the skull's origins. Skulls have also been found at two other high schools, with police conducting inquiries to determine if they belonged to humans.

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