Sunday, December 12, 2004

Can Cremated Remains be Used for DNA Testing?

This is a good question brought up in the comment to my last post. I don't have the answer but the potential difficulty of this task was discussed by the Japan Times. The Asahi also deals with this. I don't know if the Japanese are going to reveal how they were able to do the tests on the cremated remains.

I would like to add though, that I'm inclined to believe the Japanese over the North Koreans, especially in light of the last attempt:

It is not the first time Pyongyang has provided Japan with what it says are the remains of an abductee. Two years ago, North Korea offered the purported bones of Kaoru Matsuki, who disappeared in 1980 when he was 26 and, according to Pyongyang, died in a traffic accident in 1996 at the age of 43.
Experts gave up on attempting to conduct DNA tests because the bones were in poor condition, but a dental expert who examined what appeared to be a jaw bone said it apparently belonged to an elderly woman.

The article also notes that the body was exhumed and then cremated. It seems dodgey to bury someone and then exhume it to have it cremated - especially since Koreans are traditionally not inclined to cremate bodies.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui