lunes, 9 de julio de 2007


Esta primera parte se la voy a dedicar a la persona que me la envio, el Sabunim Jose Amador aka SulsaKwan. Muchas Gracias por el enlace: , Brother.




More than fifty years after the end of World War II, many Asia nations that suffered at the hands of Imperial Japan as colonies during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries again feel that they have been assaulted. The current controversy concerns historical distortions found in recent official Japanese middle school textbooks that attempt to overlook or re-write the past of Japan in a more favorable light. While only a small percentage of middle schools have elected to use the textbooks, the fact that the Japanese government approved the books for use is the element that has made the issue all the more controversial. (“Poll: Public Schools,” 2001) Korea is among the nations that have taken issue on several points, and has requested that Japanese authorities correct 35 Korea related historical discrepancies detailed in a point-by-point rebuttal published by the Korean Information Service, an office of the Korean government. (KIS, 2001).

This paper addresses the subject of the first four points listed in the KIS point-by-point rebuttal, which deal with the controversial relationship between Korea and Japan in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, particularly the alleged Imna Command Post,[1] and the alleged domination of Silla and Paekche by the Wa.[2] One object of this paper is to analyze some of the fundamental historical assumptions on which the controversial Japanese claims are based. Special attention will be paid to the controversial inscription on the monument erected in honor of King Kwanggaet’o,[3] which is the lynchpin in the Japanese theory of Wa domination in the peninsula during the fourth and fifth centuries. Information from related historical records, such as the Samguk Sagi [4] and the Nihon Shoki,[5] as well as evidence from the growing body of archaeological data from both the peninsula and the archipelago, will also be considered in the overall evaluation.

The position of this paper is that during the fourth and fifth centuries, the occupants of the archipelago – be they referred to as Wa or Yamato – controlled neither the kingdoms of Silla and Paekche, nor the alleged Imna Command Post in any capacity that projected power over Silla and Paekche, and that a Paekche-Wa alliance with Paekche as the dominant member is much more probable than Wa suzerainty. In fact, a greater deal of the known archaeological evidence would suggest Korean domination on the archipelago, however that position will not be argued in this paper. Because the events occurred in ancient history, a concrete conclusion cannot be reached with any genuine confidence, but it will be argued that the vast majority of archaeological and circumstantial evidence supports the position of this paper.


Background and Context

The problem of a less than accurate official historical record in Japan has been known for some time, and the role of the Japanese government is also well known in that regard:

Today there is not much need to stress the fictitious character of the chronology of the Kojiki and Nihonshoki… But at the same time we are bound for practical reasons to follow the elaborate system of erroneous dates set forth with official approval and sanctions. All recent publications of Japanese historical chronology have unquestionably followed these officially approved tables which establish an almost insurmountable barrier of the research student in the ancient history of prehistory of Japan… Myth and legend were traditionally accepted as historical fact in the national past. (Szczesniak, 1952:1)

Some Japanese historians have begun to question and refute many nationalist conclusions in the history of Japan, however “such trends have not yet been carried over to the nation’s relationship to its colonial empire.” (Schmid, 2000: 953) In Korea’s case, primarily Korean historians have taken up the task of rectifying the record, although some Western, Japanese, and other Asian historians have become involved as well.

Pre World War II Japanese history textbooks were based on the Nihon Shoki, and said that Japanese forces from the Yamato court fought for and controlled of the southern end of ancient Korea from the Koguryŏ. (Hatada, 1979: 6; KIS, 2001). A general pre-war era historical explanation of ancient Korean-Japanese relations was that:

The power of Japan to rule in Korea began with the creation of the State of Mimana as her protectorate so that Silla could not invade it. Japan’s power in Korea began to decline with the destruction of her government-general in Mimana by Silla, and finally, when the allied armies of China and Silla, in 663, annihilated her military force in Korea, Japan was forced to abandon all her claims there. She did not regain authority in Korea until after the Russo-Japanese War. The date of the founding of Mimana is therefore essential to a determination of the period of suzerainty that Japan exercised over Korea prior to 1905. (Kuno, 1937: 193)

However, at the time, the only historical evidence of such a claim that was used in textbooks came from books eight and nine of the Nihon Shoki (Grayson, 1977: 66), which were in conflict with the Korean historical record of the time period in question, the Samguk Sagi (Kirkland, 1981: 123). The overall validity of the Nihon Shoki, specifically for events before the fifth century, has been called into question by the first English translator of the document, W.G. Aston (Grayson, 1977: 66), as well as other scholars on the basis of archaeological evidence (Hatada, 1979: 17), and for a lack of corroboration from Korean or Chinese historical records of the same period [6] (Hong, 1994: 195 & 205). Post war textbooks still taught Japanese control of ancient Korea, but those claims were then based on the inscription of the King Kwanggaet’o stele, rather than the Nihon Shoki, “Thus the basis for the view that Japan had controlled Korea moved from an unreliable ancient chronicle to the reliable stele inscription.” (Hatada, 1979: 6).

The inscription of the Kwanggaet’o monument is an extremely critical piece of evidence because when archaeological evidence is scanty or difficult to interpret, it is often interpreted in light of the written record. Conversely, when the written record is difficult to interpret or has many possible interpretations, as in the case of the Kwanggaet’o inscription, it may also be considered in light of the archaeological evidence. Because the Kwanggaet’o monument inscription was completed in 414 AD, or directly after the events in question, rather than several centuries after as the Samguk Sagi and Nihon Shoki were, it is also deemed to be more reliable and credible than other sources, and some have ventured so far as to say that “In the opinion of all who treated the veracity of the Inscription, it is to be accepted as exact and true” (Szczesniak, 1952: 4). However, this paper will consider the context in which the inscription was written, as a tribute to a king, and recognize that the authors of such historical records take certain liberties. The inscription on the Kwanggaet’o stele, as well as a brief survey of the archaeological evidence of the technological and cultural levels of the peninsula and archipelago after the fourth century, will be covered in the following sections.

It is also important to taken into consideration the fact that, in the fourth and fifth centuries, neither the occupants of the peninsula nor the archipelago had any notion of the Korean and Japanese nationalistic sentiments that are now so well defined. Therefore the actions of that time should not be interpreted in such a modern nation-state context.

One should also take careful note of the last two sentences in the above quote taken from Kuno. Considering the time at which his work was written, 1937 during the colonial rule of Korea and other Asian and Pacific nations by Japan, it was an obvious statement attempting to legitimize the colonial rule of Korea with past claims to such rule (Grayson, 1977: 67; Suh, 1988: 183). The historical textbook issue is not a new one.

Interpretations of The Kwanggaet’o Stele Inscription

King Kwanggaet’o, whose name literally means “broad expander of domain,” conquered 64 fortress domains and 1,400 villages, greatly increasing the size of the Koguryŏ kingdom. (Lee, 1984: 38) When King Kwanggaet’o died in 412 AD, his son ascended the throne, and it was King Changsu [7] who erected the now controversial monument to King Kwanggaet’o in 414, two years after his death. The monument was erected at what was then the Koguryŏ capital, Kungnae-sŏng, which is in the present day Peoples Republic of China, not far from the Yalu River. (Hatada, 1979: 1; Lee, 1984: 38)

The monument was lost for centuries, with only occasional reports of sightings from travelers, until farmers rediscovered it in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s. Foliage covering the monument was burned off in an attempt to clear it away, very likely damaging the inscription, but to what extent is unknown. The monument is a rectangular stone column, 6.2 meters high, having four sides of uneven length with an average length of about 1.5 meters. Chinese characters are carved on all four sides, with a total of 1,802, of which 260 are completely illegible due to surface damage, and many characters cannot be read with precision. (Hatada, 1979: 3)

Around the time of discovery, a tracing of the inscription was made by a Ch’ing official of Huaijen District to make a simple copy of the characters, but the technique was relatively inaccurate compared to the rubbing technique that was later employed. The Japanese were most interested in the inscription, and as early as 1884 or 1885 Sakao Kangenobu, a Japanese military intelligence officer (Japanese General Staff Office), brought an outline tracing to Japan. This military office was the first to study the inscription in Japan, (Hatada, 1979: 3) and:

One must also understand that at the time, the Japanese army was extremely interested in moving onto the continent, and though Japan was still weak and overbalanced in Korea by the Chinese, it was planning ways to move into Korea and Manchuria… (Hatada, 1979: 4)

Since the term “Wa” appeared on the inscription, and the Nihon Shoki recorded that ancient Japan had sent armies to Korea, subjugated the counties there, and controlled Korea through the “Mimana Nihon Fu,” or the Imna Command Post, the Japanese army, which was planning a continental advance, utilized the inscription as a source of historical rationalization for entering, and later annexing, Korea (Grayson, 1977: 67; Hatada, 1979: 4; Suh, 1988: 183). It was asserted that the Kwanggaet’o stele inscription corroborated the Nihon Shoki account, and thus that Korea had originally been Japanese territory. Figure 1 displays the classic Chinese passage dealing with the time period in question. It is important to note that the Chinese characters can be divided into different sections when read, and where the translator chooses to separate the characters will effect the overall meaning of the interpretation, which will become more apparent in the several translations discussed below.

Figure 1. The controversial lines 8 and 9 from the first side of the Kwanggaet’o stele inscription. (Hatada, 1979: 8)

The Official Japanese Interpretation

As noted above, the Japanese government created an “almost insurmountable barrier [for] the research student in the ancient history of prehistory of Japan” (Szczesniak, 1952: 1) with official versions of history, and “The fact that the Kwanggaet’o inscription had first been studied by the General Staff placed limits on the directions that subsequent research on the inscription could take in Japan.” (Hatada, 1979: 5) Thus, following studies with more accurate rubbings and direct access to the monument did find errors in the army’s research, but the overall “consensus that the imperial government of ancient Japan sent troops to Korea, subjugated Paekche and Shilla” (Hatada, 1979: 5) remained unchallenged.

The English translation of the Japanese interpretation of the inscription reads: “Paekche and Silla had long been subject peoples of Koguryŏ and had originally presented tribute to Koguryŏ, but in 391 the Wa [Japan] came, crossing the sea, and made subjects of Paekche, _____, [8] and Silla.” (Hatada, 1979: 9) This is the translation that has been propagated by Japan for decades, and while many modern scholars no longer accept it as the correct account as being entirely accurate, it is the version represented in the current textbook controversy.

The Chŏng In-bo Interpretation and Logic

Chŏng In-bo raised the first Korean reaction, and said that Shilla and Paekche did pay tribute to Koguryŏ, but divides the characters of the rest of the passage differently than the Japanese, thus getting a different reading. Chŏng’s reading is: “The Wa invaded, [in response to the Wa invasion] Koguryŏ crossed the sea and defeated the Wa, [in the war between Koguryŏ and Japan] Paekche conspired with Japan and [verb] Silla, Because Paekche had originally been a subject of Koguryŏ.” (Hatada, 1979: 9) The word listed as “verb” is unclear on the inscription. Chŏng’s logic is that:

According to the Japanese reading, both Paekche and Silla were subjugated by the Wa. If they had been subjects of Wa, this would have been an act of rebellion against Koguryŏ, and both Paekche and Silla would have been equally guilty. However, King Kwanggaet’o punished only Paekche, and this does not make sense. Furthermore, if Paekche was destroyed by Wa and became its subject, Paekche was the victim of aggression, and Wa was the aggressor. It is unlikely a king to leave the aggressor alone and attack the victim of the aggression. The king should have attacked the aggressor. (Hatada, 1979: 9)

While Chŏng’s logic is well thought out, the interpretation is doubtful for a few reasons. In classical Chinese subjects and object may be omitted, but in Chŏng’s reading the subjects and objects of verbs shift too much, making it unnatural as classical Chinese. Second, if Koguryŏ had crossed the sea and defeated the Wa, the stele inscription would probably, although not certainly, have been more specific about such a deed, since the inscription was a record of the king’s deeds, and similar accomplishments were more explicit. (Hatada, 1979: 9)

The Kim Sŏk-hyŏng Interpretation and Logic

An interpretation by Kim Sŏk-hyŏng, which also divides the characters differently than the Japanese or Chŏng g, is that: “In 391 the Wa came and attacked. [In response to the Wa attack] Koguryŏ crossed the sea, defeated Paekche, [verb] Silla, and made them subject peoples.” (Hatada, 1979: 10). Kim’s position was that the Wa were actually Koreans of Paekche descent that had established a colony in northern Kyūshū, which is why it was necessary for Koguryŏ to attack the Paekche in order to halt Wa aggression. His interpretation has fewer unnatural elements of classical Chinese. However, proving that Wa was a Paekche colony is difficult, and in the next passage, Koguryŏ again attacks Paekche in the year 396 AD. If Paekche had been defeated in 391, it should not need to be attacked again in 396 (Hatada, 1979: 10).

The Cho Seung-bog Interpretation and Logic

Cho understood the “sea” mentioned in the inscription as the “Yellow Sea” on the western coast of the peninsula, which would be a convenient sea route, and that it was King Kwanggaet’o who crossed the [Yellow] sea, and engaged the enemy [destroyed] in Paekche territory. Using such logic, Cho’s reading is that:

“Paekche and Silla were formerly [King Kwanggaet’o’s] subjects. Since then, they have been paying [their] tribute, but the Japanese [Wa] came in the year Sinmyo [391]. Thereby [the King] crossed over the sea and destroyed Paekche x x Silla to make them his subjects x x x.” (Hong, 1994: 199-200)

The Hatada Takashi Interpretation and Logic

In order to better understand the context of the inscription, Hatada suggests placing oneself in the place of the writer, and to keep in mind that the inscription amounted to a eulogy of a king, which would most likely entail some exaggeration or embellishment. The position of the writer was that both Silla and Paekche were subjects of Koguryŏ, and when the Wa and Paekche attacked Silla and was hostile towards Koguryŏ, the existing order was disturbed. Following that line of reasoning, Silla, being a loyal subject, requested aid from Koguryŏ when the Wa and Paekche attacked, and Koguryŏ assisted Silla, leading to a string of conflicts with Paekche. Thus, Koguryŏ punished Paekche and protected Silla. (Hatada, 1979: 10-11) However, in reality Paekche could not have been correctly characterized as a subject of Koguryŏ, since it maintained a hostile attitude before 391, and in fact killed the Koguryŏ King Kogugwŏn in battle in 371. And while Silla may have been submissive, to say that it was a subject is also not entirely correct. (Hatada, 1979: 13) Based on this logic, Hatada reads the stele inscription as:

“Paekche and Silla had long been subject peoples of Koguryŏ and from the beginning presented tribute to Koguryŏ. Then the Wa in 391 came crossing the sea to destroy the previously existing international order. Paekche ______ Silla and made it a tributary” (Hatada, 1979: 12).

The first line of Hatada’s translation reflects the position of the writer of the inscription, and may be considered to be somewhat of an exaggeration, while the second line indicates that the Wa disrupted the perceived order on the peninsula. The last ten characters explain that in these circumstances, Paekche conspired with the Wa in the attack on Silla. (Hatada, 1979: 12) Considering the close ties between Paekche and the Wa, Hatada also concludes that:

I believe that the Wa of the King Kwanggaet’o stele were the same Wa that appear in the Silla pon’gi of the Samguk Sagi. They were not the Yamato state, but a kingdom in northern Kyūshū…” (Hatada, 1979: 17).

Table 1 below summarizes the various interpretations of the King Kwanggaet’o stele inscription that are presented in this paper, and serves to further illustrate the difficulty scholars have in coming to a consensus on this issue.

The theory of Yi Chin-hŭi, a Korean scholar living in Japan, should also be addressed. Based on his research of tracings, rubbings, and photographs of the stele over time, Yi concluded that Japanese military officers had effaced the inscription in an attempt to corroborate the Nihon Shoki. However, Japanese scholars have countered that if the Japanese officers had done so, they would have made the outcome more favorable for Japan. If Yi’s theory is correct, further research on the stele itself would be meaningless, and only the earliest tracings and rubbings would be accurate. (Hatada, 1979: 7-8).

Summary of Interpretations of the Kwanggaet’o Inscription

Japanese Version

Paekche and Silla had long been subject peoples of Koguryŏ and had originally presented tribute to Koguryŏ, but in 391 the Wa [Japan] came, crossing the sea, and made subjects of Paekche, _____, and Silla. (Hatada, 1979: 9)

Chŏng In-bo

The Wa invaded, [in response to the Wa invasion] Koguryŏ crossed the sea and defeated the Wa, [in the war between Koguryŏ and Japan] Paekche conspired with Japan and [verb] Silla, Because Paekche had originally been a subject of Koguryŏ. (Hatada, 1979: 9)

Kim Sŏk-hyŏng

In 391 the Wa came and attacked. [In response to the Wa attack] Koguryŏ crossed the sea, defeated Paekche, [verb] Silla, and made them subject peoples.” (Hatada, 1979: 10).

Cho Seung-bog

Paekche and Silla were formerly [King Kwanggaet’o’s] subjects. Since then, they have been paying [their] tribute, but the Japanese came in the year Sinmyo. Thereby [the King] crossed over the sea and destroyed Paekche x x Silla to make them his subjects x x x. (Hong, 1994: 199-200)

Hatada Takashi

Paekche and Silla had long been subject peoples of Koguryŏ and from the beginning presented tribute to Koguryŏ. Then the Wa in 391 came crossing the sea to destroy the previously existing international order. Paekche ______ Silla and made it a tributary. (Hatada, 1979: 12)

An examination of the events outlined in the Samguk Sagi during the late fourth and early fifth centuries reveals that: 1) Koguryŏ advanced south and put pressure on the southern kingdoms; 2) Silla was submissive, while Paekche resisted strongly resisted; 3) Paekche invaded Silla; and 4) The Wa assisted Paekche and hostages from both Silla and Paekche resided with the Wa. Thus, the Samguk Sagi and the Kwanggaet’o inscription agree in general terms, but differ in details. (Hatada, 1979: 15) If Wa had subdued Silla and Paekche, as claimed in the Nihon Shoki, that fact should have been reflected in the Samguk Sagi and been much more evident in the political affairs of those two kingdoms, but was not.

Another area concerns hostages from Silla and Paekche. The record indicates that hostages were sent rather than taken by force, which implies alliances, rather that domination of one party by the other, which was a common practice of the time. Others have pointed out that:

It is interesting to note that Paekche’s utilization of Japanese military resources… started quite early… In any case, as Paekche called on Japan for its defense, Japan responded with active support for economic and cultural reasons on its part. (Joe and Choe, 1997: 44-45)

This is consistent with the archaeological evidence, which will be discussed in the following section, and is an interesting way to describe the Paekche-Wa relationship in that it indicates a much more reciprocal relationship than is described in the Nihon Shoki.

The nature of the stele must also be revisited. As a monument and eulogy to King Kwanggaet’o it would most likely not include information that was unflattering. For the Wa to take Silla and Paekche, described in the inscription to be subjects of Koguryŏ, would be for the king to lose those subjects, and such an implied defeat would not likely be placed in the inscription in that form, making the official Japanese version improbable.

The tentative conclusion to this point, based on the various translations and logic presented thus far, particularly those of Hatada, is that while a Paekche-Wa alliance occurred, Wa domination of Paekche and Silla did not, which also makes the existence of the Imna Command Post as a power base very improbable.

The Archeological Record

The archaeological record, while not free from dispute, is much less controversial than the written record, and nearly all agree that since the earliest of times there was a steady flow of technology, culture, and institutions from the peninsula to the archipelago. In addition, “Because of the long interval between the invention of some of these items in China and their transmission to the archipelago through Korea, natives of the peninsula are liable to have altered or refined these times to some degree.” (Farris, 1996: 4)

Immigration was very active in the Bronze and early Iron ages, and as early as 300 BC the Yayoi culture of Japan began to emerge as a result. (Kim, 1972: 35) In fact, nearly all of the iron to make the first Japanese weapons and tools came from Korea until the fifth century. (Farris, 1996: 6).

Korean and Japanese archaeologists generally agree that lamellar armor entered Japan from the peninsula, and were introduced with little or no change from the Chinese nomads of central Asia. However, the cuirass design unique to sites in southern Korea and Japan have long been a point of disagreement for Korean and Japanese scholars. Japanese archaeologists claim that the pieces found in southern Korea were imported from the Wa, while Koreans contend that that completed pieces were completed in Korea and sent to Japan (Farris, 1996: 7-8). Korean archaeologists argue two primary points:

First, until recently the distributions of cuirasses – a disproportionate percentage have appeared in Japanese tombs – favored the Japanese position. During the 1980’s, however, South Korean archaeologists began to discover many more in what would have been Kaya territory, thus bolstering South Korean claims as the source of the cuirass. Second, the earliest Japanese cuirasses of the fourth century showed strong regional variations, just at a time when Kaya pieces were uniform. According to one South Korean archaeologist, the uniformity of Kaya cuirasses suggests production by a central power, which then exported the idea to the archipelago, where various chieftains made their own versions. (Farris, 1996: 8)

In light of the established record of transmission of other technologies to the archipelago from the peninsula, and considering the relative backwardness of the occupants of the archipelago at that time, the Korean argument does tend to be more logical and realistic.

The disagreement over cuirasses is absent concerning the introduction of horse related items into Japan, and it is agreed that the gear and skills that entered Japan come from the peninsula. Many archaeologists on both sides also agree and disagree with Egami Namio’s horserider theory,[9] which says that the horseriders swept across the archipelago and consolidated power very rapidly. However, evidence from Japanese tombs suggests a more gradual spread of horse riding gear and technology over several decades, not the sudden influx claimed by Egami. In addition, there is no evidence of such an invading tribe or tribes conquering the peninsula. (Farris, 1996: 9-10)

Korean type pottery, crowns, earrings, and weapons are artifacts that are commonly found in fifth century Japanese tombs, and the stone-corridor-and-chambered tombs in northern Kyūshū are perhaps “the tombs of descendents of Koguryŏ immigrants from Korea.” (Kim, 1972: 35) While most scholars believe that the stone-corridor-and-chambered tomb is another Chinese invention, the fact that the oldest known such tombs are located in northern Kyūshū again strongly indicates southern Korea as the source for the archipelago. “Therefore it seems most reasonable to assume that the stone-corridor-and-chamber tomb was an import from Paekche, a product of that states’ intimate politic tie with Wa,” (Farris, 1996: 12) and that:

The importation of Korea-style jewelry at this time implies [that]…the techniques of inlaying and inscribing also entered Japan in the fifth century. Once again it seems apparent that peninsular master metalworkers taught the native of the island their important skills.” (Farris, 1996: 13)

The Inariyama Tumulus Sword, which dates back to the late fifth century, was discovered in 1968 and revealed to the public in 1978 when the inscription with 115 Chinese characters was discovered during a cleaning process. (Murayama and Miller, 1979: 405-406) A Japanese scholar stated that the inscription was proof of the extended influence of the Yamato court “as far as the Musashi region in the fifth century,” and this has been widely accepted in Japan, especially because Japanese people and place names appear to be inscribed in the sword. (Murayama and Miller, 1979: 412) However, “a number of impressive linguistic and orthographic indicators of Korea origin or influence have already been identified in the text of the inscription” (Murayama and Miller, 1979: 416), and some have said that the author was probably a Korean due to the overt linguistic evidence, also noting that some of the words in the inscription do “not look very Japanese.” (Murayama and Miller, 1979: 419 & 429) Because the Inariyama sword, as well as some other swords[10] discovered in Japan, utilized the Korean “Idu”[11] system of writing, Kim Sŏk-hyŏng concluded that they originated in Paekche and that the kings named in their inscriptions represent Paekche kings rather than Japanese kings. (Hong, 1994: 258)

The Takamatsuzuka tomb is located in the Asuka region in the Nara prefecture, and was opened in 1972. Most of the tombs in the area date to the sixth century, and the inner wall surfaces of the Takamatsuzuka tomb, unlike the others, was plastered in the Korean and Chinese manner, as well as paintings that clearly depicted Korean women in Korean attire. It has been suggested that fifth century Koguryŏ tombs may have been prototypes for the paintings in the Takamatsuzuka tomb, but other sources are apparent as well. (Kidder, 1972: 248-249)

There are many other examples that demonstrate the vast flow of technology and culture from the peninsula to the archipelago. The Korean influence is visible in Sobata pottery, which emerged under direct influence of Korean comb-pattern pottery. (Kim, 1972: 35) Korean specialists, including “tailors, weavers, brewers, metallurgists, ceramists, tanners, painters and medical specialists” (Lee, 1972: 30) helped cultivate primitive ancient Japan. Technology from the peninsula played the leading role in the cultivation and irrigation of aquatic rice, contributing enormously to the food production capabilities of ancient Japan, and:

The Japanese characters called Kana, half ideograph and half phonogram, now used in Japan, also were invented sometime in the fifth century through the assistance of the immigrants from Paekche, with Chinese charters as it basis. (Lee, 1972: 30)

While trade no doubt played an important role in the transmittal of technology from the peninsula to the archipelago, immigration clearly had the primary role. Both archaeological and historical evidence show a constant pattern of migration from Korea to Japan, (Farris, 1996: 16) which can also be evidenced by the strong traits of southern Tungusic language revealed in the Japanese language. (Kim, 1972: 35)

As Egami theorized, the rapid changes and advances in technology on the archipelago where too sudden and unnatural to have been an indigenous development, and it is highly improbable that “a peaceful agricultural society would have had any reason deliberately to import an alien culture, thereby transforming the basic character of its own culture.” (Kirkland, 1981: 110) As one examines the archaeological evidence, it becomes obvious that the beginning of higher culture and technology in Japan is intimately tied to increased contact with, and immigration from, the peninsula, (Edwards, 1983: 291) and that “the basic structure of ancient Japan was virtually organized by Paekche.” (Lee, 1972: 31) It also becomes clear that the Japanese contention of ruling Korea in the late fourth and early fifth centuries contradicts the archaeological record. There is very little doubt that the peninsula was far more advanced than the Wa, thus it is highly unlikely that the Wa, relatively unsophisticated technologically and institutionally, would have been about to dominate and control the more advanced states on the peninsula, particularly in “such fundamentals as iron-working techniques, weapons, horse gear, gold and silver metallurgy, and so forth.” (Farris, 1996: 14) This relates to, and reinforces, the position of this paper in that “according to archaeological findings, the Mimana Nihon Fu did not exist. We can only conclude that it was a creation of the Nihon Shoki.” (Hatada, 1979: 17)


If one is to accept the position of this paper, that while a Paekche-Wa alliance occurred, Wa domination of Paekche and Silla did not, which also makes the existence of the Imna as a power base of the Wa very improbable, and in light of the archaeological evidence that the rapid changes and advances in technology on the archipelago where too sudden and unnatural to have been an indigenous development, one must then ask: “what prompted the ancient Japanese to make such claims?” On possible answer comes from Farris, who proposes that the Yamato court may have articulated a new imperial ideology in the late seventh century as a reaction to Silla dominating the peninsula, and that that ideology influenced the depiction of relations with the peninsula in the Nihon Shoki. Thus, the threat of a common enemy, occupying Yamato territory, was used as a tool by that court to consolidate power on the archipelago. (1995: 14-15) History has reflected that such a threat is a powerful means of unifying factions that under normal circumstances might not willingly choose to cooperate. Indeed, the tragedy of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC serve to demonstrate how powerful an outside threat can be in unifying a nation, politically and otherwise. One should also recognize that “the role of the southern peninsular states in transferring culture also implied that Japanese court war relatively backward, a painful point to would-be unifiers of the archipelago” (Farris, 1996: 15).

The written sources – the Kwanggaet’o stele inscription, the Samguk Sagi, and the Nihon Shoki – all clearly indicate that the Wa sent troops to the peninsula from the late fourth century, but in what context those troops were sent, and to what result, is where the controversy begins. Concerning entries in the Nihon Shoki on the Wa domination of southern Korea:

One reasonable hypothesis is that the peninsular states wanted and received Wa military aid in the war… one must be careful with these entries because [Yamato] annalists always portray the Korean kingdoms as submitting tribute to superior Yamato monarch, but leaving aside the phraseology, one can readily see the reciprocal relationship. (Farris, 1996, 16-17)

However, the political contention between Paekche and Wa must have started sooner than the seventh century, since claims over Wa, Paekche, Silla, Imna, and other lands, were made by a Wa representative much earlier than that in Chinese court, according to the Record of Sung (Sou-sho), Volume 97. Barbarians. (Nito, 2001)[12] At any rate, the hypothesis articulated above by Farris is still applicable to the situation in that the contention that had long been present simply became more pronounced and institutionalized in the seventh century. The archaeological and peninsular written records refute claims to Wa suzerainty, but one must still ask how such claims might have arisen from the Wa in the first place. One explanation as to how a Wa presence at Imna could later have evolved into claims of ruling that region is that:

Yamato rulers managed to obtain a permit from the King of Kaya to administer a port facility (naturally with a group of Japanese residents) at the southern tip of Kaya as a direct short-cut crossing route from Japan. Nihongi makes it clear that there was a “port of passage” located in the Imna [i.e., Mimana] area with Japanese residents and that there was an official entity which Nihongi called the “Japanese Government House,” with someone at the top with the title of “Governor of Imna.” Nihongi also makes it clear, however, that there was “the King of Imna ” who ranked equally with Kings of Koguryeo, Silla and Paekche. Nihongi records further that there were frequent conflicts between the Japanese agents [in the port facility] and the Imna people. (Hong, 1994: 217)

In this context it becomes clear that while Wa representatives did not rule in Imna, they probably did exercise some political influence, which may have been encouraged by local leaders in an attempt to retain independence in the face of possible Silla aggression. “For the Japanese [Wa] the arrangement assured continued access to iron and advanced continental culture, which had been channeled through the area since ancient times.” (Batten, in Hong, 1994: 218) That such a relationship was depicted as suzerainty by the Wa, and reinforced by Yamato annalists, who were apt to distort records to enhance and inflate archipelago importance in peninsular affairs, is understandable considering that such practices were standard. (Kirkland, 1981:125)


This paper has addressed the topic of the controversial relationship between Korea and Japan in the late fourth and early fifth centuries as it pertains to the alleged Imna Command Post, and the alleged domination of Silla and Paekche by the Wa. The following points emerge as major conclusions to this investigation:

1. The archaeological record clearly indicates a long and continuous pattern of technology, culture, and institutions being transferred from the peninsula to the archipelago. In light of this, it is extremely unlikely that the comparatively simple inhabitants of the archipelago could have crossed the sea and conquered Silla and Paekche. This is especially relevant considering that Koguryŏ, which had the advantage of horses and did not have to cross the sea to engage Silla or Paekche, was unable to conquer them.

2. While the archaeological record does not present anything to indicate Wa domination of Imna, historical records make it clear that they did maintain a “port of passage” there, and that they probably did wield some sort of political influence as a result. Possible Wa claims to Chinese court could then bee seen as a failed appeal to a higher authority to settle the issue in their favor.

3. The Yamato court had motivations for wanting to present themselves as having suzerainty over Imna, Silla, and Paekche. First, the threat of a common enemy, unified Silla, occupying alleged Yamato territory was probably used as a tool by that court to consolidate power. Secondly, the role of the peninsula, particularly Paekche, in transferring culture, technology, and institutions was perhaps a painful implication of the relative backwardness of the Yamato court – something that could easily be remedied by court annalists in the official history of the archipelago up to that time, the Nihon Shoki.

4. The known written records – the Kwanggaet’o stele inscription, the Samguk Sagi, and the Nihon Shoki – all contain some embellishment of the actual record, but also contain critical elements of the truth. Upon examining the various possible interpretations of the Kwanggaet’o stele inscription, the official Japanese version is deemed to almost surely be invalid. This is especially true in light of the archaeological record, and the motivations that the inhabitants of the archipelago had for projecting such an image, both in ancient times, and in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Without the stele inscription, the primary piece of evidence, the Japanese claims are no longer tenable.

The above findings confirm close ties between Paekche and Wa. Considering the advanced cultural standing of Paekche relative to Wa, it is most probable that Paekche utilized Wa soldiers in return for continued access to Paekche assistance in technological related areas. Wa domination of Paekche is deemed as being inconsistent with the archaeological record, as well as an objective and logical understanding of the social conditions of the time – a reciprocal relationship is strongly indicated.

As stated in the introduction, absolute proof cannot be attained when dealing with such ancient histories, but in this case I believe that the evidence and logic presented can be taken proof beyond any reasonable doubt. While no amount of reasoning or evidence is apt to change the position of the current Japanese government on the textbook issue, it is hope of this author that the official position of the Japanese government will in the future represent the consensus of modern scholars in this matter.


[1] Imna Command Post, or just Imna, is Korean for what is known in Japanese as “Mimana,” which is also known and referred to as “Mimana Nihon Fu.” The Japanese allege that Imna was a Wa or Yamato dependency. (Hatada, 1979: 17; KIS, 2001)

[2] The Wa, or Japanese of the fourth and fifth centuries, are also referred to in this document at times as the “Wae” or “Wei” in different documents. Wa may refer both to the nation, as well as the inhabitants of that nation.

3] King Kwanggaet’o is also known as Kukkangsang Kwanggaet’ogyong p’yŏngan hot’ae-wang, King Hot’ae, Great King Yŏngnak, and King Hao-t'ai. He was king for 22 years, from 391 AD – 412 AD. The memorial was erected two years after his death in 414 in present day China outside the capital of Chian District, T’unghua Special Area, Chilin Province, not far from the Yalu River. (Hatada, 1979: 1)

[4] The Samguk Sagi is the “Historical Record of the Three Kingdoms,” which was compiled by the historian Kim Pu-sik in the twelfth century. (Lee, 1984: 58)

[5] The Nihon Shoki, also known as the Nihongi, is “The History of Japan,” and was compiled in 720 AD. (Joe and Choe, 1997: 94)

[6] Although no Chinese records confirm the Japanese claim, mention of the Japanese claim is made in the Record of Sung (Sou-sho), Volume 97. Barbarians. (Nito, 2001) However, the reader is cautioned that the English text is less than reliable in this source, and that the Chinese text included should be consulted instead. For example, one section of the English text refers to a Wae representative stating that that: “He was named” to be in a position of power over Wae, Silla, Paekche, etc., by the Chinese court. However, the actual Chinese characters were: 自稱 (자칭) which should be translated as: “He declared himself,” or “He called himself,” or “He named himself.” Thus, very different implications and connotations are presumed by the inaccurate English translation.

[7] King Changsu served from 413-491 AD, and was known as “the long lived.” He continued his father’s activities and brought Koguryŏ to its height. In 427 AD he transferred the Koguryŏ capital to P’yŏngyang. (Lee, 1984: 38)

[8] Some of the characters in the passage are illegible. Authors have represented those unknown characters with either underlined space or, in some cases, with X’s to represent each individual missing character.

[9] While Egami’s “Horserider theory” has both supporters and contenders, Egami has admitted that he cannot “identify positively the conquering continental people that supposedly traversed Korean and overran Japan.” (Kirkland, 1981:110)

[10] The Seven-branched sword and a seven-child mirror where alleged to have been offered to Jingo by Paekche, and the Funayama Sword which was found in a Paekche style tomb near the city of Taman. (Kim, 2001)

[11] The “Idu” system “was used for centuries to record both official and private documents. In the idu system, Chinese characters were more or less integrated into Korean syntax with special symbols used to represent Korean grammatical markers that did not exist in Chinese. A later system, known as hyangch'al, was an attempt to represent Korean sounds and meaning completely in Chinese characters.” (Jackson, 1997)

[12] The Chinese text alone is recommended. Refer to note 6 for cautions about the reliability problems with the English translation of this source.


Edwards, Walter. (1983). Event and Process in the Founding of Japan: The Horserider Theory in Archaeological Perspective. The Journal of Japanese Studies, 9:2, 265-295.

Farris, William Wayne. (1996). Ancient Japan's Korean Connection. Korean Studies, 20, 1-22.

Grayson, James H. (1977). Mimana, A Problem in Korean Historiography. Korea Journal 17:8, 65-69.

Hatada, Takashi. (1979). An Interpretation of the King Kwanggaet'o Inscription. Korean Studies 3, 1-17.

Hong, Wontack. (1994). Paekche of Korea and the Origin of Yamato Japan. Seoul: Kudara International.

Jackson, Jr., Earl. (1997). Korea Writing System. Consulted 2001 December 3.

Joe, Wanne J. and Choe, Hongkyu A. (1997). Traditional Korea: A Cultural History. Rev. ed. Hollym.

Kidder, J. Edward. (1972). The Newly Discovered Takamatsuzuka Tomb. Monumenta Nipponica, 27:2, 245-251.

Kim, Won-yong. (1972). Impact of Ancient Korean Culture upon Japan. Korea Journal 12:6, 34-35.

Kim Yongduk. (2001). In Search of Paekche’s Tamnos. Royal Asiatic Society-Korea Branch. Consulted 2001 December 3.

Kirkland, J. Russell. (1981). The 'Horseriders' in Korea: A Critical Evaluation of a Historical Theory. Korean Studies, 5, 109-128.

KIS (Korea Information Service) (2001 June 16). Point-by-point Rebuttals. Consulted 2001 November 15.

Kuno, Yoshi S. (1937). Japanese Expansion of the Asiatic Continent, Volume I. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lee, Ki-baik. (1984). A New History of Korea. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press.

Lee, Yong-bum. (1972) Korea's Political Power in Ancient Japan. Korea Journal, 12:6. 30-34.

Murayama, Shichiro and Miller, Roy Andrew. (1979). The Inariyama Tumulus Sword Inscription. The Journal of Japanese Studies, 5, 405-438.

Nito, Atsushi. (2001). An Outlook on the World of Ancient Japan: Tenka, State, Capital. Consulted: 2001 December 03.

Poll: Public Schools Won’t Use Controversial Textbook. (2001 August 17). Mainichi Shimbun. 2001 November 20.

Schmid, Andre. (2000). Colonialism and the 'Korea Problem' in the Historiography of Modern Japan: A Review Article. The Journal of Asian Studies, 59:4, 951-976.

Suh, Dae-Sook. (1988). Kim Is Sung: The North Korean Leader. New York: Columbia University Press.

Szczesniak, Boleslaw. (1952) Some Revisions of the Ancient Japanese Chronology: Ojin Tenno Period. Monumenta Nipponica, 8:1-2, 1-14.

Yi, Chong-hang. (1977). On the True Nature of 'Wae' in Samguk sagi. Korea Journal, 17:11, 51-59.