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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Korean annals deserve to be credited


can scarcely be any doubt that the Korean peninsula was largely permeated with Chinese influences from a very early date, but the processes which produced that result need not be detailed here. It has been also shown above that, in the era prior to Jimmu, indications are found of intercourse between Japan and Korea, and even that Susanoo and his son held sway in Shiragi. But the first direct reference made by Japanese annals to Korea occurs in the reign of Sujin, 33 B.C. when an envoy from Kara arrived at the Mizugaki Court, praying that a Japanese general might be sent to compose a quarrel which had long raged between Kara and Shiragi, and to take the former under Japan's protection. It appears that this envoy had travelled by a very circuitous route. He originally made the port of Anato (modern Nagato), but Prince Itsutsu, who ruled there, claimed to be the sole monarch of Japan and refused to allow the envoy to proceed, so that the latter had to travel north and enter Japan via Kehi-no-ura (now Tsuruga.)

Incidentally this narrative corroborates a statement made in Chinese history (compiled in the Later Han era, A.D. 25-220) to the effect that many Japanese provinces claimed to be under hereditary rulers who exercised sovereign rights. Such, doubtless, was the attitude assumed by several of the Imperial descendants who had obtained provincial estates. The Emperor Sujin received the envoy courteously and seemed disposed to grant his request,

but his Majesty's death (30 B.C.) intervened, and not until two years later was the envoy able to return. His mission had proved abortive, but the Emperor Suinin, Sujin's successor, gave him some red-silk fabrics to carry home and conferred on his country the name Mimana, in memory of Sujin, whose appellation during life had been Mimaki.

These details furnish an index to the relations that existed in that era between the neighbouring states of the Far East. The special interest of the incident lies, however, in the fact that it furnishes the first opportunity of comparing Japanese history with Korean. The latter has two claims to credence. The first is that it assigns no incredible ages to the sovereigns whose reigns it records. According to Japanese annals there were only seven accessions to the throne of Yamato during the first four centuries of the Christian era. According to Korean annals, the three peninsular principalities had sixteen, seventeen, and sixteen accessions, respectively, in the same interval. The second claim is that, during the same four centuries, the histories of China and Korea agree in ten dates and differ in two only.* On the whole, therefore, Korean annals deserve to be credited. But whereas Japanese history represents warfare as existing between Kara and Shiragi in 33 B.C., Korean history represents the conflict as having broken out in A.D. 77. There is a difference of just 110 years, and the strong probability of accuracy is on the Korean side.

*For a masterly analysis of this subject see a paper on Early Japanese History by Mr. W. G. Aston in Vol. XVI of the "Translations of the Asiatic Society of Japan."


Suinin, second son of his predecessor, obtained the throne by a process which frankly ignored the principle of primogeniture. For Sujin, having an equal affection for his two sons, confessed himself unable to choose which of them should be his successor and was therefore guided by a comparison of their dreams, the result being that the younger was declared Prince Imperial, and the elder became duke of the provinces of Kamitsuke (now Kotsuke) and Shimotsuke. Suinin, like all the monarchs of that age, had many consorts: nine are catalogued in the Records and their offspring numbered sixteen, many of whom received local titles and had estates conferred in the provinces. In fact, this process of ramifying the Imperial family went on continuously from reign to reign.

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