KYOTO--An earthquake scientist at Kyoto University here falsified and plagiarized charts used in an academic paper published in the U.S. journal Science, the university said March 26.

The research paper on the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes was called into question after a whistle-blower alerted the university to the errors.

Aiming Lin, a professor of earthquake geology at the university, was lead author of the article published in October 2016.

An investigative panel established by Kyoto University ascertained that four diagrams used to illustrate the article had been fabricated or taken from other research. The university called on Lin to retract the article.

University officials said they were also considering disciplinary action against Lin.

The gist of the article was that much greater damage from the April 2016 series of earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture was possibly averted by a magma chamber under Mount Aso that absorbed the stress caused by a shift in the fault zone.

According to Kyoto University officials, its section to receive consultations about whistle-blowing learned in August 2017 that diagrams accompanying the article "contained a number of errors that cannot be ignored."

The whistle-blower indicated some parts of the articles may have had data fabricated.

An investigation was mounted by a panel that included outside experts.

Lin was found to have used diagrams depicting fault movement that were originally created by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience as well as a researcher at the University of Tokyo as data to support his theory.

But the panel found that in the process of rotating the perspectives of the diagrams used for the article a change led to differences with the originals.

University officials said that Lin admitted the four diagrams contained errors, but argued that did not mean his summation was wrong.

The panel was unable to conclude if the irregularities were intentional and it absolved the other members of the research team of any involvement in the irregularity.


The Asahi Shimbun originally ran an article about the research by Lin in its Oct. 21, 2016, evening edition published in the Kansai region and its Oct. 22, 2016, morning edition published in the Kyushu region, as well as posting an article on The Asahi Shimbun Digital website. The article was translated into English and posted on the AJW site but with the announcement by Kyoto University, the article has been removed. We apologize for the error.