Paleoenvironmental Influences on the Earliest Peopling of the Japanese Archipelago
During major glacial periods when sea levels were substantially lower the main islands of the Japanese archipelago (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku) that form paleo-Honshu would have been connected to the Asian landmass at the southern end of the Korean peninsula. Hokkaido has been connected to the Asian landmass more frequently through Sakhalin, but deeper ocean trenches suggests very irregular connections between Hokkaido and paleo-Honshu. Due to the development of deep ocean trenches early on, the Ryuku islands would have long been separated from both paleo-Honshu and Taiwan, the nearest larger landmasses. The impact of this paleobathymetric variation directly influenced movement of various floras and faunas between the archipelago and the mainland. Here, I discuss current research that focuses on the relationship between paleoclimate variation and the earliest peopling of the Japanese archipelago, and the role the Korean peninsula played as a likely dispersal center for human foragers to move to the islands.