The Genetic Affinity Between Cretans and Okinawans

· Genetics

Updated on July 01, 2013

Linguists generally dismiss language correlations among societies unless there is demonstrated non-random genetic affinity [“Genetic Distance”] through one or more DNA markers, which identify ancestral clans. Consequently, despite the language similarity, linguists dismiss Japanese as the underlying language of LinA because the DNA research, as typified in the haplo-group maps, seemingly does not support a correlation. However, research results often indicate larger groups and do not compare two isolated island-societies that are a half world apart. Nevertheless, although mounting interdisciplinary evidence overwhelmingly supports the correlation between these societies, linguists will not be satisfied until a non-random genetic link has been established. This research endeavors to establish the “missing genetic link” between the Okinawans (and, by association, the Japanese) and the Minoans that historical linguists require.

Genetic analysis begins with two types of DNA markers: Y-DNA, which is passed through fathers, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is passed through mothers [“Mitochondrial”]. Both types of markers can tell fascinating stories about the origins of ancestral clans.

One factor, which helps to make the case about Okinawa’s shared ancestry with Crete, is Okinawa’s ethnic isolation in ethnically diverse Japan; Okinawans share a genetic cluster that distinguishes them from other Japanese groups. Consequently, Japanese people belong to one of two genetic categories: natives of the Okinawa prefecture, in the Ryukyu Islands (Ryukyus), and natives of “other parts” of Japan [“Riken”]. Natives of the Ryukyus demonstrate a closer genetic affinity to the Koreans, whereas natives of “other parts” demonstrate closer genetic affinity to the Han Chinese. Among the Japanese, the latter affinity is called Honshu (from Jiangsu). Geneticists are surprised to learn that the genetic affinity between Koreans and Okinawans is greater than that between the Honshu and the Okinawans. The Korean DNA sequence comprises 17.4% Okinawan DNA, whereas the Japanese DNA sequence comprises just 16.1% Okinawan DNA [“Making sense”]. While these statistics are interesting, they do not clarify the components of the Okinawan DNA sequence, which may tell some very interesting stories. In the meantime, the following may provide some hints about some of those stories.


Thus far, the most telling evidence of a genetic link between Crete and Okinawa is found in Y-DNA haplogroup J/J2 (not to be confused with mtDNA haplogroup J/J2), which, from northern Mesopotamia, spread to Anatolia and to southern Europe, in the west, and to India and to Persia, in the east [“Origins”]. It is believed that J1 originated in eastern Anatolia and spread to Europe and the Middle East through the expansion of pastoralism [“Haplogroup J1”]. It is also believed that J2 spread from Anatolia to Greece between the late Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. The Greeks and the Etruscans were primarily responsible for the spread of J2 in the southern and western Mediterranean regions, which included Assyria, Babylonia, and Phoenicia [“Origins: J2”]. In fact, between the Bronze and the Iron ages, all of the great seafaring civilizations were J2 dominant [“Haplogroup J2”]. A key component of my theory is that the Minoans were Khâtians who originated in Karum Kaneš (Kanesh), a merchant organization in Anatolia (see Naru Kanashi: Paradise Across the Ocean).

J1 #1 reaches its highest rate of frequency in Crete, at 12.50%, while J2 #1 appears to reach a significant rate of frequency in Okinawa at 1.15%, which is tied in fifth place with the Netherlands and which is all the more striking for Okinawa’s distant isolation from the Mediterranean region and European influence (see J­/J2 charts).

It should be noted that J2 #4 reaches its highest rate of frequency in Han China at 2.86%. It is speculated that this frequency is due to “trade relations along the Silk Road” [“Haplogroups J/J2”]. It appears that the incidences in both Okinawa and China are unrelated, since the Chinese/Honshu affinity does not demonstrate a significant incidence on the Japanese mainland, the population of which is demonstrably higher than that of Okinawa.

Those who wish to explore J2 ancestry may be interested in the Cultural Anthropology of Haplogroup J2 as well as the J2 news page.

E1b1b (formerly E3b)

Believed to have originated in southern Africa around 26,000 years ago and to have spread to the Middle East during the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, Y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b reaches its highest European concentration in Albania, Kosovo, and northwestern Greece. It then diminishes around the Balkans, the rest of Greece, and western Turkey.

Here, again, Okinawa reaches a significant rate of frequency at 1.15% and is tied in 12th place with the Netherlands. Osaka follows at 1.00%, and Nagoya follows at .48%. Interestingly, Athens follows Okinawa and Osaka at .99% (see E3b charts).

Perhaps an argument can be made that the Netherlands spread both E1b1b and J2 to Okinawa. While it is true that the two regions are associated through Okinawan karate, an equally compelling argument is that the Okinawans spread these haplo types to the Netherlands. The latter argument is made stronger through archaeological, linguistic, and other types of evidence.


Geneticists are still unclear about the origin of R1b; however, a branch of R1 may have developed in the northern Middle East during the Ice Age, resulting in R1b and R1b1. The latter is presumed to have spread to northern Anatolia during the early Neolithic period. Whereas R1b1 occurs in places such as Cameroon and the Levant, it is believed that the likely origin of R1b1b is northwestern Anatolia [“Origins: R1b”]. While there seem to be no immediate statistics about the occurrence of R1b1b among Cretans, the occurrence in Japan [“Learn About”] seems significant, especially in association with the two previous groups.


The preceding data, while inconclusive, begins to erode the long-held belief that Crete and Japan lack affinity. Ideally, a comprehensive genetic study would settle the argument, but, until this occurs, this immediate study may be considered in the context of evidence that demonstrates Japanese as the underlying language of Linear A.

Interested readers may also appreciate Haplogroup frequency correlations in Southeastern Europe, which studies the correlation among the three haplogroups that are mentioned in this article.


NOTE: I am seeking a geneticist who is willing to explore the Cretan/Okinawan affinity and to publish findings on this website.

MLA Citation:

  • Leonhardt, Gretchen E. The Genetic Affinity Between Crete and Okinawa. Naru Kanashi. 19 Feb 2012. Ret. on [date]. <>


  1. Genetic Distance and Language Affininities Between Autochthonous Human Populations. Ret. on 19 Feb 2011.
  2. Haplogroup E3b. Rootsweb. Ret. on 03 Sep 2011. <>.
  3. Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA). Ret. on 03 Sep 2011.
  4. Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA). Ret. on 03 Sep 2011.
  5. Haplogroups J / J2. Rootsweb. Ret. on 03 Sep 2011. <>.
  6. Learn About Y-DNA Haplogroup R. Ret. on 19 Feb 2011.
  7. Making sense of the DNA data and the origins of the Japanese. Heritage of Japan. Ret. on 03 Sep 2011. <>.
  8. Mitochondrial Eve. Ret. on 04 Sep 2011.
  9. Origins, age, spread and ethnic association of European haplogroups and subclades. Ret. on 03 Sep 2011.
  10. Riken Study: two genetic types of Japanese people exist. Heritage of Ret. on 03 Sep 2011. <>.



Comments RSS
  1. Hyon Yun: Independant Scholar, General

    The Korean DNA sequence comprises 17.4% Okinawan DNA because, after the Sambyeolcho resistance was quelled, the Sambyeolcho moved from Korea to Okinawa.

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