Cultural Resources Laws on the Internet

Home | Index by Charles T. Keally
August 12, 2001

The Japanese Early Palaeolithic fabrication scandal has caused considerable discussion of ethical and professional standards. Japanese archaeology effectively lacks clear, written codes for ethics and professional standards. The fact that Japan has one of the world's best laws for the preservation of cultural properties, and numerous government white papers and guidelines for conducting archaeological work, obscures the fact that (1) these laws, white papers and guidelines are not generally in the hands of the field archaeologists, or referred to by them, and (2) they are not available on the Internet on the Agency for Cultural Affairs's web site. (Note that the Ministry of the Environment does post its relevant laws and regulations on its web site [see links below].) Matters related to the law and regulations are generally handled by the local municipality office or the prefecture or the Agency for Cutural Affairs; these are not matters generally handled by the field director on an archaeological project.

Moreover, in reports on archaeological work done under the law (contract archaeology), reference is made to the relevant laws and regulations in all the US reports I have seen, but not in any of the more than 1,000 Japanese reports in my possession.

These facts suggest to me that, in general, Japanese archaeologists have a low awareness of the laws and regulations under which they work. In such a context, it is expectable that there would also be a very low awareness of the need for clear, written codes of ethics and professional standards.


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