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Falsehood of MimanaNihonfu

Falsehood of MimanaNihonfu

MimanaNihonfu is a passage recorded only in NihonShogi, published in 720 AD. It should have been treated as the subject of scholastic debate in the field of history of the relationship between ancient Korea and Japan, but it hasn't in reality. The actual heated debates concerning Japanese textbooks and political situations in both Korea and Japan brought this subject up in debates in the media, and these tendencies preceded the scholastic research. The question on MimanaNihonfu cannot be answered with prejudice and emotional reaction as seen in the relationship between Korea and Japan. The debate on MimanaNihonfu has been going on for over one hundred years in both countries. It is important to briefly introduce the studies on MimanaNihonfu in Korea and Japan, to clarify the falsehood of MimanaNihonfu and to identify its reality.

Japanese Studies

Studies on Mimana Nihonfu fit into two categories: Japanese studies and Korean studies. Nationalist Japanese historians claimed that from the fourth to sixth century A.D., ancient Japan colonized the Korean peninsula south of the Han River, and Mimana Nihonfu acted as the colonial administration. However, this idea, which was propagated before the post-WWII liberation of Korea, has since been challenged. In the 1960s and 1970s, beginning with the "Fight against the Bilateral Security Agreement between the USA and Japan" and the dissemination of works critical of the West, the Mimana Nihonfu issue was resurrected in Japan for further scrutiny. Strangely, the content of Japanese history books remains as before, yet few Japanese academics today support the earlier historical perspectives. In Korean academic circles, ironically, a few scholars have continued to focus on historical studies written before 1945. In the 1970s, a group of North Korean scholars espoused the so-called "Wa theory" of Gaya. The theory was as follows: From antiquity, the Korean peninsula and Japanese archipelago had active exchanges. As Korean people moved to the Japanese islands, Wa, in groups, came to live in Gaya. Subsequently, Mimana Nihonfu was developed as the Wa administration in Gaya, acting as a type of Japanese consulate. The difference was that, at that time, the consulate was under the control of the Japanese government, so Mimana Nihonfu was not under the control of Wa kings. In any case, this administrative theory of Mimana Nihonfu, while proposed by North Koreans, bore a resemblance to pre-1945 Japanese theories of the phenomenon. In the 1970s and 1980s, another theory claimed that Mimana Nihonfu was not an administrative nor controlling organ of the Japanese government, but a mere delegation of Wa in Gaya. This theory was based on linguistic interpretation, as the Chinese character Fu (府), representing only the concept of "diplomats," was inscribed in Nihon Shogi. This character was read as Mikotomochi in ancient Japanese. Before 645 A.D., Mikotomochi also referred to the term "diplomats" and was neither an administration nor a form of government. These days, it is this linguistic interpretation of Mimana Nihonfu that has received the greatest attention in both Korea and Japan.

North Korean Studies

North Korean scholars were the first academics to challenge Japanese interpretations of Mimana Nihonfu. In 1963, Seok-Hyeong Kim published a revolutionary work that took issue with the then prevalent nationalist Japanese theory. Kim called his theory the "branch kingdoms theory." According to Kim, groups from the Three Han and the Three Kingdoms moved to the Japanese islands and founded new kingdoms modeled after their mother kingdoms. Among these was the kingdom of Mimana, a state founded by Gaya people at Hiroshima and Okayama. To the west of Mimana was the branch kingdom of Baekje; in the northeast, the branch kingdom of Silla; in the east, the branch kingdom of Goguryeo. Also in the east was the Yamato government of the Wa. S.H. Kim interpreted the Mimana Nihonfu question in Nihon Shogi as a struggle for supremacy among the branch kingdoms of Silla, Baekje, and Kokuryeo centered around Mimana on the Japanese archipelago. Mimana Nihonfu, in Kim's view, could only be understood properly by situating it within the context of the history of the Japanese archipelago, not the history of the Korean peninsula. During a period of political conflict, Wa, in the latter half of the fifth century, occupied the Gaya branch kingdom of Mimana and established an administration that became known as Mimana Nihonfu. Regardless of any shortcomings with this theory, S.H. Kim's study acted as a stimulus to further historical research in both Korea and Japan.

South Korean Studies

Gwan-Woo Cheon was the author of yet another viewpoint on Mimana Nihonfu, "The Theory of Baekje Military Headquarters." Cheon argued that if the reader changed the principle subject from Japan to Baekje when reading Nihon Shogi, many passages appeared quite logical. Thus, Cheon re-interpreted the statement that Japan occupied Gaya at the end of the fourth century to mean Baekje invaded Gaya. According to this theory, Mimana Nihonfu, which appeared in the middle of the sixth century, was actually Mimana Baekjefu. Cheon went further, arguing that this seat of administration was the Baekje military headquarters established to exercise influence over Gaya's politics. Another theory, proposed by other Korean historians, was that Mimana Nihonfu was an agency set up by Gaya to engage in commerce with Wa. However, this theory is not based on a thorough analysis of documents directly pertaining to Mimana Nihonfu. More recently, studies based on historical documents considering Mimana Nihonfu as a diplomatic delegation have been published, thus creating common ground for ideas from both Korea and Japan. This diplomatic theory will be discussed in further detail later on in a section on the identity of Mimana Nihonfu.

Criticism of Existing Studies

Passages in the Nihon Shogi indicate that Mimana Nihonfu certainly existed in the Gaya regions. Nevertheless, existing studies have only stressed Japanese and Baekje interests in Gaya. No scholars have seriously pondered the main issue--the interests of Gaya itself. The main contemporary current of thought has been the "Mimana theory of Mimana Nihonfu" with little mention of the existence of Gaya. These studies are easily challenged even without detailed analysis of the statements in Nihon Shogi. First, the reference to Mimana Nihonfu was culled only from "Kinmeiki" in Nihon Shogi, a work on sixth century Japanese history. The theory of the Baekje Military Headquarters in Korea and Japan was based on a passage concerning the pacification of Silla and Gaya from "Jingugi" in Nihon Shogi, which recorded the history of the fourth century and the foundation of Mimana Nihonfu. However, it is difficult to believe that Wa who colonized Gaya in the fourth century would establish an administration or military headquarters two hundred years later in the sixth century. Moreover, Mimana Nihonfu existed only for about fifty years in the sixth century. Thus the theory that Wa, colonizing Gaya politically or militarily, established an administration or headquarters one hundred and fifty years later lacks credibility. First, the reference to Mimana Nihonfu was culled only from "Kinmeiki" in Nihon Shogi, a work on sixth century Japanese history. The theory of the Baekje Military Headquarters in Korea and Japan was based on a passage concerning the pacification of Silla and Gaya from "Jingugi" in Nihon Shogi, which recorded the history of the fourth century and the foundation of Mimana Nihonfu. However, it is difficult to believe that Wa who colonized Gaya in the fourth century would establish an administration or military headquarters two hundred years later in the sixth century. Moreover, Mimana Nihonfu existed only for about fifty years in the sixth century. Thus the theory that Wa, colonizing Gaya politically or militarily, established an administration or headquarters one hundred and fifty years later lacks credibility.

Second, in the references to Mimana Nihonfu, no mention is made of Wa or Baekje having such administrative powers over Gaya as tax collection, labor levies or military conscription. There is no mention of administration or government. The statements on Mimana Nihonfu refer strictly to diplomatic activities done in conjunction with Gaya kings. From these statements, it is impossible to imagine the existence of a Wa administration or Baekje military headquarters. Third, according to Nihon Shogi and Samgug Sagi, Silla brought down Mimana or Gaya. No mention is made of any military action taken by Wa or Baekje against Silla as it conquered Gaya. Does this mean it was possible for Mimana Nihonfu to have been the Wa administration or Baekje Military Headquarters? Likely not. Fourth, the theory of Wa people in Gaya can similarly be criticized. If Wa people lived in groups in Gaya, and its administrative apparatus was Mimana Nihonfu, there should be records of administrative activities, but references to Mimana Nihonfu in Nihon Shogi speak only of diplomatic activities. Moreover, no recorded documents of any kind or significant archaeological remains from Wa people living in Gaya exist. Some Wa objects were found in excavations in Gaya areas, but they were few in number--only one or two Wa objects were found scattered among several hundred pieces of Gaya relics. The Wa artifacts, moreover, were discovered in traditional Gaya tombs. The evidence does not suggest Wa communities in Gaya, but merely confirms trade and commerce between Gaya and Wa. As the theory of Wa communities cannot be proven, the theory of Wa in Gaya does not stand up to rigorous scrutiny. Fifth, the branch kingdom theory propounded by Seok-Hyeong Kim, which situates Mimana Nihonfu on the Japanese archipelago and not on the Korean peninsula, has a fatal flaw. Mimana is mainly mentioned in Nihon Shogi, but it was not a term created by Nihon Shogi. The term Mimana is found in both Korean and Chinese documents. Chinese Koaljiji called Mimana "Gaya" when referring to it in an international context. The tombstone at King Gwanggaeto's grave records Mimana-gaya as the country Goguryo took a military expedition to in 400 A.D. It is not necessary to mention again that Mimana-gaya designated Gaya. Samguk-sagi mentions that a Silla writer named Gangsu was from Mimana-gaya. Gangsu was from the city known as Cheongju. Cheongju, of course, is nowhere near the Japanese archipelago. Gangsu was a descendent of Daegaya families uprooted by force by Silla from Goryeong and forced to migrate to Cheongju. Similarly, in the temple of Bongrim in Changwon near Gimhae, there is a stone engraving that states that the great Buddhist master Jingyeong was a descendent of the Mimana royal family. This term Mimana thus refers to Gaya. In short, Mimana could only have been Gaya on the Korean peninsula and it could not have been anywhere on the Japanese archipelago. There could have been a branch kingdom of Gaya on the Japanese islands, but historical facts indicate that Mimana Nihonfu developed in the Gaya region.

The Identity of Mimana Nihonfu

What was the identity of Mimana Nihonfu? Let's first examine the term. Mimana Nihonfu is a compound word made from Mimana (任那) + Nihon (日本) + Fu (府). As seen above, Mimana is another appellation of Gaya. The name "Japan" appeared only after the seventh century and did not exist in the middle of sixth century when Mimana Nihonfu was mentioned. When Nihon Shogi was published in the eighth century, the term Wa was transformed into Nihon. Even in Nihon Shogi, which referred to Mimana Nihonfu, both terms--Nihon and Wa--were used side by side. Departmental edicts from Bakufu (幕府) established, with the mandate from the emperor to his generals, a government to execute military and administrative activities. In ancient Japan, the system of Bakufu had never been carried out as in China. The first recognition of Bakufu as an administrative organ was in Tsukushitotokufu (667 A.D.) and Tsukusidajaifu (671 A.D.). Therefore, one hundred to one hundred fifty years beforehand in Japan, in the sixth century, "fu" did not exist. The interpretation of fu thus needs other approaches. Many manuscripts of Nihon Shogi and commentary books read the Nihonfu as "Mikotomochi of Yamato." This reveals that the writers of Nihon Shogi, adding their own interpretations, adapted the Chinese character fu to represent Mikotomochi. The true identity of Mikotomochi is the key to understanding the identity of the Nihonfu. The first mention of Mimana Nihonfu was in the first half of the sixth century, whereas, Mikotomochi, before 645 A.D., was an envoy, sent to powerful regional clans with messages from the king. The envoy returned to the king after delivering the messages, so it was a temporary position. In conclusion, we can see that Mikotomochi of Yamato in the first half of the sixth century was a delegation from Wa, and Mimana Nihonfu was a diplomatic body sent from Wa to Gaya.

Nihonfu = Wa diplomats

What was the identity of Mimana Nihonfu? Let's first examine the term. Mimana Nihonfu is a compound word made from Mimana (任那) + Nihon (日本) + Fu (府). As seen above, Mimana is another appellation of Gaya. The name "Japan" appeared only after the seventh century and did not exist in the middle of sixth century when Mimana Nihonfu was mentioned. When Nihon Shogi was published in the eighth century, the term Wa was transformed into Nihon. Even in Nihon Shogi, which referred to Mimana Nihonfu, both terms--Nihon and Wa--were used side by side. Departmental edicts from Bakufu (幕府) established, with the mandate from the emperor to his generals, a government to execute military and administrative activities. In ancient Japan, the system of Bakufu had never been carried out as in China. The first recognition of Bakufu as an administrative organ was in Tsukushitotokufu (667 A.D.) and Tsukusidajaifu (671 A.D.). Therefore, one hundred to one hundred fifty years beforehand in Japan, in the sixth century, "fu" did not exist. The interpretation of fu thus needs other approaches. Many manuscripts of Nihon Shogi and commentary books read the Nihonfu as "Mikotomochi of Yamato." This reveals that the writers of Nihon Shogi, adding their own interpretations, adapted the Chinese character fu to represent Mikotomochi. The true identity of Mikotomochi is the key to understanding the identity of the Nihonfu. The first mention of Mimana Nihonfu was in the first half of the sixth century, whereas, Mikotomochi, before 645 A.D., was an envoy, sent to powerful regional clans with messages from the king. The envoy returned to the king after delivering the messages, so it was a temporary position. In conclusion, we can see that Mikotomochi of Yamato in the first half of the sixth century was a delegation from Wa, and Mimana Nihonfu was a diplomatic body sent from Wa to Gaya