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Emperors visit to Saipan controversy on marmot

June 29th, 2005 . by Matt

Oranckay, who is guestblogging on marmot wrote a post about the Japanese Emperors visit to Saipan. There was one particular part of the post that I took exception to, and it is reproduced below.

This is not the first time Akihito has surprised people in relation to Korea. Right-wingers in Japan have long denied the obvious – that Japan’s royal family originated from Korea – but now the only people they can lie to on that one is themselves because at his 68th birthday press conference the emperor came out and declared he has Korean blood.

To which I replied

Akihito surprised Koreans with his statement, not Japanese. You might think that right wingers in Japan go around denying that the mother of a Japanese Emperor more than 1000 years ago was not Korean, but that is just not the case. This has been public knowledge since the NIHONSHOKI was written (720 AD), and regular people came to know of it as literacy spread. Indeed, it was widely known and spread about by the Japanese government during the Japanese administration of Korea to show affinity between Korea and Japan, and to help legitimize Japans control of the penninsula in the eyes of Koreans.

I think you have adopted the Korean worldview and that you are essentially projecting what you would think Koreans would do in the same situation, and trying to apply it to Japanese.

Please try to diversify yours sources, particularly in regards to the Korea-Japan relationship, as there is very little intellectual diversity to be found in Korea on this issue.

Oranckay has often taken anti Japanese positions, but as far as I know is a foreigner, and not a Korean. It should be interesting to see how this shapes up.

UPDATE – discussion continues on marmot, beginning with Oranckays response in the boxed text.

It is also widely known that Japan cannot have had a civilization that is 600,000 years old, just like it is widely known the moon is not made of cheese, and yet that utter lunacy ended up in textbooks. (See link in post). Think what you think about what I think about Japan, but a country where such nonsense ends up part of its understanding of itself (either because it is believed or because it is left unchallenged, which in indeed might have been the case with Japan) just has to have some serious problems facing up to the obvious when it comes to history. Korea did not teach me that.

I am not sure what you are trying to get at here. Archaeological fraud is a problem the world over, although admittedly this fraud in Japan was particularly egregious. But simply identifying blind nationalism as the cause for the length of time this fraud was able to perpetuate itself seems like over simplification to me. Rather it was a lack of oversight, peer review and scientific dating that enabled this fraud. Obviously this has been a wake up call for the Japanese scientific establishment, who have no excuse for their sloppiness. It is also telling that it was a Japanese newspaper that broke the story, and that rather than trying to justify it or cover it up, moves are being made to repair the damage caused by the fraud.

The above link also makes it clear that the motivations of the archeologist involved were personal, and not motivated by nationalist sentiment (although why a ‘nationalist’ would want to falsify their nations history is beyond me).

Despite my long association with Japanese people, this is the first time I have heard anyone claim that human life was in Japan 600 000 years ago. If I were speaking with a Korean, then I would probably know in 5 minutes how long they think human civilization has been on the Korean peninsula – without asking. Oranckay, I think you have a highly exaggerated sense of the level of nationalism in Japan. For that, you are more than 60 years too late.

What was “spread about by the Japanese government during the Japanese administration of Korea to show affinity between Korea and Japan, and to help legitimize Japans control of the peninsula in the eyes of Koreans” was not that the Japanese emperor had Korean blood. It was the “任那日本府(說)” that was taught, essentially that Japan once ruled Kaya, Silla, and Paekche and now things were returning to what they always were. The implication, then, would have been that since Japan ruled Paekche and (part) of the royal family came from Paekche, then the royal who came from there, well, he wasn’t really all that Korean. I’m way beyond my area of expertise on the subject, admittedly, but it was certainly not “hey Koreans, our emperor is one of you!”

The issue of the ‘Emperors Blood’ is too arcane, anyway. There is no telling just how much of a genetic relationship modern Koreans have to people of paekche. During the Japanese administration there was also the theory of the ‘common ancestor’ promoted by some Japanese and pro Japanese Koreans. After the end of WW2, this idea was ridiculed by ‘Korean Nationalists’ who wanted to distance Korea from Japan. Interestingly, these days I often hear Koreans and Japanese speculate that they might have a common ancestor.

What little I do understand of Japanese society leads me to think that often lies fabricated and spread by extreme nationalists are just not openly challenged and are not widely accepted, at least not in full, and so the impression the outsider is left with is that everyone believes the lie in its entirety. I was impressed with the way less than 0.2 percent of Japanese schools adopted the history textbook produced by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform the last time around. Fortunately the Japanese public is not as stupid as some on the far right think it is.

The so called extreme nationalist dont need to be openly challenged since they cant get any coverage in the press, and have negligible political power. There is nothing wrong with the books produced by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, and I challenge you to bring up even one ‘historical distortion’ from the books. If the distortions are so flagrant, then you should have no trouble finding them.

Note that the Guardian (for “diversity,” of course) link says that when the emperor said he had mixed blood it came “to the delight of South Korea and, no doubt, the silent fury of many Japanese nationalists.” Surely the Guardian must be brainwashed by Koreans to have suggested Japanese nationalists were upset by hearing what was already “widely known” from their emperor.

So the Guardian has mind reading abilities along with their talent for fantastical conjecture? Good to see they actually went to the trouble of mind reading the Japanese nationalists, rather than using the passe practice of asking them what they actually think. Again, Japanese nationalists would not be upset at something that they know and accept as a fact. I know that is common knowledge in Korea that Japan never acknowledges contributions language, religion or technology from Korea, but I have a Japanese childrens history comic book that shows the process very clearly right in front of me.

Japan is not uptight like Korea. You could tell a Japanese that you think Dokto belongs to Korea and you could still maintain a relationship with them. The fact is that Korea is just not as central to Japanese history as Japan is to Korea’s history. The vast majority of Japanese do not give any thought at all to Korea, which is where ‘extreme right wing’ conspiracy theories about the Japanese fall flat.

I think this will be of special interest to my Japanese readers. Please contribute your ideas in the comments section.

UPDATE 2: Korean called ‘kimbob’ from Canada criticises Japan

Disagree completely. Just because Japan ignores and relegates Korean history’s central role in Japanese history into dust bin, doesn’t mean that Korean history did not play a central role in shaping Japan’s history. Up to the renaisance period, Korea played a huge role in transferring Chinese culture and Budhism and technology to Japan.

I said it once but I might as well say it again for you. The flow of culture and technology, often via Korea, is not ignored by the Japanese. It is taught to elementary school kids. Tomorrow I will scan a Japanese history comic book to prove to you that it is not covered up.

Japanese kidnapping of much admired and valued Korean artisans helped Japan to develop their pottery industry.

Lets be honest here. Koreans have never admired people that work with their hands. Such work was deemed to be lowly. The Japanese on the otherhand have long valued the skills of artisans, and even manual laborers. Koreans say that those artisans were kidnapped but it could be that they just got a better offer (and people that actually appreciate skilled artisans). Perhaps they were kidnapped – but the truth of that is lost in the mists of time.

For the past 150+ years, Japan has been concentrating all their attention on the West. Naturally with Korea being looked down upon as a poor and culturally inferior nation, Japan has been quietly trying to distance themselves from (but not completely denying their origins, as Shak said) anything to do with Korea.

Japan never had to consider Korea as a poor or culturally inferior nation, as Korea was merely a vassal state of China. Even Hideyoshi’s invasion of Korea was actually an invasion of China that took place on the peninsula because the Koreans did not want independence from China. Numerous envoys from Hideyoshi’s court sent to negotiate with the Koreans were rejected by the Korean King (who ruled Korea at the sufferance of the Emperor of China).

I also have to wonder if you mean to call Japan bad for ‘looking down’ on Korea. Dont you know that Confucianism in Korea has meant that Korea saw itself as number 2 after China, and looked down on Japan as inferior?

I also find it funny that Koreans like you will harp on Hideyoshi’s invasion but pretend that two major invasions of Japan launched by the Mongols from Korea, with their eager Korean servants making up the bulk of the Army, didnt even happen.

Why are Koreans so obsessive about seeking gratitude from other people? The descendants of the Koreans that helped Japan in its classical period all live in Japan, not Korea.

This thread is getting long but it is valuable discussion.

7 Responses to “Emperors visit to Saipan controversy on marmot”

  1. comment number 1 by: G雪風

    相手の人って、もしかして、チョン? それとも普通の外国人?


  2. comment number 2 by: Matt

    相手の人って、もしかして、チョン? それとも普通の外国人?

    なんか西洋人のようですが正に韓国人(姦酷人? 笑)みたいに一方的ですよね。





  3. comment number 3 by: Takamiya


    Oranckey=Disdain call of Westerner in Korean language

  4. comment number 4 by: RGM-79

    I think Oranckay isn’t one of hate-mongering Korean nationalist.
    He is symply ignorant.

    Mimana is clearly stated in many historical records not only Japanese, but also Chinese.

  5. comment number 5 by: The Great Mutoh

    This blog is fantastic! It’s well written, thoughtful, and it provides facts for disputes from a nation whose cultural backbone is mired in xenophobic revisionism and lies (Korea, for the record). I plan to read it every week. It helps to ease the post traumatic stress of speninding a long, long, sufferably long time in Korea while constantly trying to give the nation a benefit of a doubt. It lost. Good on you, Shak.

  6. comment number 6 by: Martin

    Thank you for an excellent blog. Koreans has a lot to learn if they want to be taken seriously by others in the “real” World. History is not merely a matter of politics.

    If China, Korea and Japan could find some common ground it would be so powerful. Instead, we have to listen to all the petty amateurs trying to say “my country is better than yours”. Hello! This is not a kindergarten.

    China, Korea and Japan have great religions, philosophies and profound messages. Isn’t it time to start telling Europe and the US (and Islam countries) about that? What do Koreans think they will achieve by critizising Japan? What will communist (hmm, another mis-guided ideology from the West….) China gain by arguing endlessly about imperial Japan, while not allowing a free Tibet?

    When I hear the bickering emerging from Korea, I just feel sad.

  7. comment number 7 by: Two Cents

    Hello, I’m commenting for the first time here. I thought I’d add a little trivia to your post.

    As you have mentioned, the Emperor’s statement revealed nothing new to the Japanese, except for ignorant people like the Hideko Takayama who wrote the article in Newsweek (Long-Kept Secret) that made the Japanese sound like fact-denying idiots Oranckay supposes us to be. (She must have slept through her history class.) What annoyed most Japanese at the time was how we were depicted as history deniers and Korean haters, and how Koreans triumphantly announced that the imperial line belongs to them. What the Emperor said was that he felt a certain closeness to Korea, or yukari (縁), which is a very vague term for affinity.

    In the Emperor’s case, the sense of closeness was based on the fact that the mother of his ancestor (44 generations and 75 reigns ago) was a 10-th generation Kudara (Paekche) woman of royal lineage, according to the Shoku-Nihongi (794). However, most historians doubt this royal lineage part, saying that it was probably a fabrication by the Shoku-Nihongi to raise the rank of Emperor Kanmu’s mother. One of the main obstacles for Emperor Kanmu in ascending the throne was his birth from a woman of lowly rank. However, since it was the aspirations of his father, Emperor Konin and his aide Fujiwara Momokawa to remove all influence of Emperor Tenmu’s line from the throne, he was made the crown prince instead of his brother Osabe, whose mother Princess Inoue was the great, great grand-daughter of Tenmu. Princess Inoue and Prince Osabe died in captivity on the same day after being banished for allegedly attempting to curse Kanmu to death. (Most likely, they were assassinated.) There was another candidate for the throne, Hikami-no-Kawatsugu, who was the great-grandson of Tenmu, and borne by Princess Fuwa, Inoue’s sister. He, too, was banished for an attempted coup.

    What I am trying to say here is that the marriage between Emperor Konin and Takano-no-Nigasa (the Kudara woman) was not a fairytale coupling between royals of two countries to forge an alliance like the ones often seen in European history. Nobody thought that Konin would take the throne, and thus he was free to take as a wife, someone who would otherwise have been considered inappropriate for a prince. Besides, Kurdara was destroyed 50 years before the two were even married, to call her a princess is a misnomer. What actually surprises me about the royal lineage in Japan is the LACK of intermixing with royals of neighboring countries. I mean, one Kudara woman in 44 generations and 1200 years? That’s like zero.

    As for the artisans (potters) that were taken during Hideyoshi’s invasion, they remained in Japan on their free will. After Hideyoshi died and Tokygawa Ieyasu came to power, the normalization process between Japan and Chosun commenced. One of the jobs for the first three envoy missions from Chosun (回答兼刷還使, later called 朝鮮通信使) beginning in 1607 was to contact Korean POWs and to take them home. However, it seems that only male yangbans (Confucius scholars) agreed to return, and nearly all of the artisans (and women and children) chose to remain in Japan. Warlords and merchants were paying huge sums and appreciating their art, why would they want to return to a country where manual labor was looked down upon?