Japanese researchers have uncovered a rare, centuries-old ninja oath pledging never to divulge the secrets of their spying and sabotage skills — on pain of divine retribution for generations.
Written in cursive calligraphy, the oath contains six promises and was signed about 300 years ago by “Inosuke Kizu.”
Kizu was a ninja from a clan in Iga, a mountain-shrouded town near the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto.
Photo: AFP / International Ninja Research Center
Expressing gratitude to his superior for passing on ninjutsu or “the art of the ninja,” Kizu pledged he would never pass the knowledge on — even to his children or brothers — and would never use it to steal unless so ordered.
In his oath, the ninja acknowledges that if he broke the promises, he would be punished by “big and small gods in more than 60 provinces across Japan” for generations.
The document shows how strict ninjas were about keeping their skills and techniques secret, said Yoshiki Takao, an associate professor at Mie University’s International Ninja Research Center.
“Thieves and ninjas did the same thing — sneaking into other people’s houses — but ninjas prized morality highly,” Takao said. “Ninjas were ‘public servants’ in today’s terms, providing security services and collecting information.”
Also of interest to academics was a vow in the oath to report to his superiors any new skills, tools or firearms that were not in the Bansenshukai, a secretive 17th-century text considered to be somewhat of a ninja encyclopedia.
Kizu said he could show only three chapters of the Bansenshukai to top-ranking samurais who employed ninjas and vowed not to disclose the book’s contents in other writings.
This interests academics because “it shows that Bansenshukai was actually becoming used as a textbook,” Takao said, even though it left crucial points vague.
The contents of the multivolume book are now known to the public, but many ninja traditions remain hidden as important secrets were passed on by word of mouth.
The oath was among about 130 ancient documents left to the university by the 16th head of the Kizu family.
The existence of the oath was unveiled five decades ago, but its whereabouts were unknown until now, Takao said.
Inosuke, who submitted the oath, was the fifth head and last ninja from the Kizu family.
The document was believed to have been returned to his family after his death, Takao said.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications