A leading Japanese newspaper reported today that a University of Tokyo investigative committee has identified 43 papers by a former university researcher that contain falsifications and fabrications. The Asahi Shimbun also reports that the researcher, molecular signaling specialist Shigeaki Kato, will ask journals to retract the papers. The front-page article reported that the problematic data were mostly manipulated images and appear in publications stretching back 16 years.
A university spokesperson tells ScienceInsider that the committee's report, apparently seen by at least one reporter, is not being released and could not confirm the claims made by the newspaper. Kato could not be reached for comment.
Questions about the Kato group's publications arose in January 2012 when an anonymous whistleblower posted a video online exposing allegedly duplicated and manipulated images in a number of papers. Kato resigned from the university's Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in late March 2012. According to the Retraction Watch blog, Kato now has five retractions, including one from Nature, and has five Molecular and Cellular Biology papers subject to an expression of concern.
The Asahi article says that the report does not assign responsibility. But in a Q&A with Kato, the article quotes him as saying, "there is no doubt that there was impropriety." He is also quoted as apologizing and explaining that he didn't catch the impropriety because he trusted his lab members.
The university official said that the committee has concluded phase one of its investigation but could not say when the probe would be completed or when results would be released.