Genetic and anthropometric studies on Japanese people

In population genetics, research has been done on the genetic origins of modern Japanese people.


From the point of view of genetic studies, Japanese people:

  • have about 9-13% Jōmon ancestry (which is highest in the Ainu people, who are largely of Jōmon descent[1][2]) and the majority of their ancestry from the Yayoi people.[3][4]
  • are genetically most similar to Ryukyuans and Koreans as well as other East Asian people but quite distinct from the Ainu.[5]

From the point of view of anthropometric studies, Japanese people have:


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 archaeology in Japan, also treated the issue in 1781.[6] 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.[7] However, Kazuro Hanihara announced a new racial admixture theory in 1984.[7] Hanihara also announced the theory "dual structure model" in English in 1991.[8] According to Hanihara, modern Japanese lineages began with Jōmon people, who moved into the Japanese archipelago during Paleolithic. 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.[7] 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 study published 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.[9] Hiroto Takamiya of the Sapporo University suggested that the people of Kyushu immigrated to Okinawa between the 10th and 12th centuries CE.[10][11]

A 2011 study by Sean Lee and Toshikazu Hasegawa[12] reported that a common origin of Japonic languages had originated around 2,182 years before present.[13]

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 (Vietnamese people).[14] 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.[15]

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[16] 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.[17][18][19][20][21]

Recent full genome analyses in 2020 by Boer et al. 2020 and Yang et al. 2020, reveals some further information regarding the origin of the Jōmon peoples. They were found to have largely formed from a Paleolithic Siberian population and an East Asian related population.[22][23]

A genome study (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.[24]

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)

The existence of a second pre-Yayoi wave of immigration during the Jōmon period were suggested before. One study, published in the Cambridge University Press in 2020, suggests that the Jōmon people were rather heterogeneous, and that there was also an “Altaic-like” pre-Yayoi population (close to modern Tungusic-speakers, samplified by Oroqen) during Jōmon period Japan, which established itself over the local hunter gatherers. This “Altaic-like” population migrated from Northeast Asia in about 6000BC, before the actual Yayoi migration.[25]

The most popular theory is that the Yayoi people were the people who brought wet rice cultivation to Japan from the Korean peninsula and Jiangnan near the Yangtze River Delta in ancient China.[26] According to several Japanese historians, the Yayoi and their ancestors, the Wajin, originated in the today Yunnan province in southern China.[27] Suwa Haruo[28] considered Wa-zoku (Wajin) to be part of the Baiyue (百越).[29]



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.[30][31]

Rajvir Yadav et al. (2000) stated the sitting height to stature ratios of different populations: South Indian (0.4922), female Indian (0.4974), Eastern Indian (0.4991), Southeastern African (0.5096), Central Indian (0.5173), US (0.5202), Western Indian (0.5243), German (0.5266) and Japanese (0.5452).[32]

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. However, the amount of northern genetics is higher in Japanese people compared to Vietnamese, who are closer to other Southeast Asians (Thai or Bamar people).[33][34]

Neville Moray (2005) said that, for Korean and Japanese pilots, sitting height is more than 54% of their stature, with about 46% of their stature from leg length. Moray said that, for Americans and most Europeans, sitting height is about 52% of their stature, with about 48% of their stature from leg length. Moray indicated that modifications in basic cockpit geometry are required to accommodate Japanese and Vietnamese pilots. Moray said that the Japanese have longer torsos and a higher shoulder point than the Vietnamese, but the Japanese have about similar arm lengths to the Vietnamese, so the control stick would have to be moved 8 cm closer to the pilot for the Japanese and 7 cm closer to the pilot for the Vietnamese. Moray said that, due to having shorter legs than Americans, rudder pedals must be moved closer to the pilot by 10 cm for the Japanese and 12 cm for the Vietnamese.[35]

Onuoha, Idike & Oduma (2012) stated the sitting height to stature ratios for the following ethnic populations: Southeastern Nigeria (0.5122), Indian (0.5254), German (0.5266), British (0.5287), Chinese (0.5310) and Japanese (0.5452).[36]


Ashley Montagu (1989) said that the "Mongoloid skull generally, whether Chinese or Japanese, has been rather more neotenized than the Caucasoid or European..."[37]

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.[38][39]

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.[40] 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.[40]

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.[41]

See alsoEdit


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  2. ^ Suzuki, Yuka (December 6, 2012). "Ryukyuan, Ainu People Genetically Similar". Asian Scientist. Archived from the original on June 16, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  3. ^ Late Jomon male and female genome sequences from the Funadomari site in Hokkaido, Japan - Hideaki Kanzawa-Kiriyama, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Nature and Science 2018/2019en
  4. ^ "'Jomon woman' helps solve Japan's genetic mystery | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News". NHK WORLD. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  5. ^ approaches, Dr Xu is using computational; Populations, Developing New Methods to Dissect Genetic Architecture of Human; Features, Quantitatively Characterize Their Admixture; History, Reveal Their Migration; Divergence, Adaptive (2018-04-10). "Common ancestor of Han Chinese, Japanese and Koreans dated to 3000 – 3600 years ago". On Biology. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
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  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ 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. S2CID 30808716.
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