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The CYA mentality May 20, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in History, Japan.
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Watching the NHK news just now, they had a piece about how they found some more mold growing on some of the paintings on the wall of the crypt at Takamatsuzuka burial mound.

The cause of the mold growth and the way the cultural affairs ministry insiders had attempted to hide the problem is strikingly similar to the situation at Lascaux. In France also, the people involved with the preservation inadvertently caused the initiation of the mold growth (in both cases contamination is thought to have occured when air conditioning units were being installed, and constructions workers were not sufficiently decontaminated before entering the work area), and they also attempted to cover up the problem. 

In both cases, problems were denied then understated, all the while access to the sites were restricted so that others would not find out how serious the problems were. At Takamatsuzuka, work is going on to remove the paintings from the walls, and it appears the people involved had hoped that they could get on with this work before the mold destroyed the paintings and their incompetence would go unnoticed. Of course, the best solution would have been to preserve the site as is, but that was not possible since the contamination and mold growth, and it seems that those responsible for this fiasco had begun strongly advocating removing the paintings when they found out they were responsible for the contamination and putting the paintings in danger.

The story from Lescaux also features prominently denials and restriction of access for independent outsiders.

Taxpayers' money is wasted on these people with little academic and moral integrity. The only thing these academics and bureaucrats have in common is a cover your ass mentality. To think that their own careers are more important than these historically important artefacts is so stunningly selfish, I am really lost for words, but as the two cases on opposite sides of the world go to show, lack of integrity seems to be an all too common human trait.

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