Korean History Studies in Japan
The 2010 Shigaku Zasshi Historiography Review: Korean Ancient History
In 2010, the year in which we met the “Centennial of the Japanese Annexation of Korea,” is a milestone for looking back upon Japanese-South Korean and Japanese-North Korean relations. There have been many publications in which research on Korean history by Japanese scholars has been reviewed. In the special issue “The History of Korean Archaeology” in Kōkogaku jānaru, Saotome Masahiro and Ko Kyogyŏl have pointed out that while it cannot be doubted that investigations undertaken in Chosŏn brought numerous results in archaeological methodology and in research, there was a strong tendency for those investigations to be led mainly by Japanese, and those results were published in Japanese through media in Japan. They have shown the actual conditions of the neglect toward Chosŏn.  In addition, despite the intentions of researchers, that research could not evade the policies of invading the continent and ruling Chosŏn and the generally accepted views of society are pointed out in Ishio Kazuhito’s comments on the paths opened by Torii Ryūzō’s investigations  and by Yi Sŏngshi, who shows that famous historians of that time, principally in the special issue “Chōsen” in Rekishi chiri published in 1910, viewed the myth of the expeditions against the Samhan together with the annexation of Korea and praised the expeditions, and as a result supported Japanese rule in Chosŏn.  Regarding postwar research on Chosŏn history that began infused with such reflections, Inoue Naoki follows the directions of research on ancient Korean history from the prewar period into the postwar period and the research of Suematsu Hirokazu and Hatada Takashi, whose respective views may be considered as contrastive. 
Research in Japanese-Korean relations also influenced to no small degree the formation of distorted historical views of ancient Korean history. As a text showing those paths and perspectives, “Daini-ki Nikkan rekishi kyōdō kenkyū hōkokusho” can be focused upon. Founded upon agreement by the two governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea, this second joint research program is a continuation of the first program of 2002-2005. In the first research group, whose topic was “Bringing Together without Excess or Deficiency the Present State of Research in the History of Ancient Interaction in Japan and South Korea,” the six members wrote on the period prior to the fourth century (Hamada Kōsaku and Cho Pŏpchong), on the fourth century to the sixth century (Mori Kimiyuki and Kim T’aesik), and on the seventh century to the ninth century (Sakaue Yasutoshi and No T’aedon).  Because the quantity of their writings is so large, admiration of their efforts cannot be forbidden. While but a small portion of their report, problematiques and points such as the transmission of rice cultivation and verbal culture, the conditions of the Imna Nihon-fu, the meanings of the keyhole-shaped tomb mounds scattered around the southwestern Korean peninsula, the possibility that a systematic legal code was not compiled in Silla, and that Tang China, in its foreign relations, greatly emphasized Silla over Japan are extremely interesting. Further, as future perspectives, more concrete divisions and descriptions regarding the cultures of the “continent” and Chosŏn, the plenitude of research on Kaya history (the distribution and chronology of Kaya artifacts in Japan), and research in comparative history based upon similarities and differences were suggested. As seen in the impressions of the research groups’ members, a space where the interaction and understanding among scholars that goes beyond one’s country is invaluable and can be highly praised. However, it is impossible to read everything from the text on the printed page. In order for the significance of this program to be shared by a larger number of people, new attempts that aim toward the future activities of each member and more mature interaction and understanding can be anticipated. Further, I hope these papers will be read, as the PDF files from the research report may be downloaded from the website of The Japan-Korea Cultural Foundation.
Contents noted in the perspectives section are already being shared. Some appeared last year. First, among texts aware of the comparative history perspective is Kodai Higashi Ajia no Bukkyō to ōken, edited by Suzuki Yasutami, which, informed by the excavation of the Paekche temple Wanghŭngsa and the discovery of written texts, offers seventeen chapters that discuss the forms or royal authority and Buddhism.  The edited volume Kanji bunkaken e no hirogari is one volume in a series that focuses on the transmission of Buddhist culture and the multiplicity of that culture from the perspective of Asia. This book must be considered a substantial general overview of the history of ancient Korean Buddhism.  The fourth issue of Higashi Ajia sekaishi kenkyū sentā nenpō is a special issue that concentrates on Japanese and Korean students abroad in the ancient period who performed important roles in interactions with Sui China and Tang China.  In the history of interaction, Tanaka Toshiaki writes that Japan’s diplomatic posture was pro-Paekche, and as an extension of those relations was anti-Koguryŏ, and that, in general, Japan-Silla relations were not good. 
In such developments in the history of interaction and comparative history, results derived from studies of newly-found sources regarding ancient Korean history are important. An article by Yi Sŏngsi, Yun Yonggu, and Kim Kyŏngho is a consideration of the reading of the Lelang bamboo strips and their form as a text of the Analects belonging to the oldest stratum of such texts.  Yun Sŏnt’ae, from examples of recently excavated Paekche wooden strips, introduces their recycling for use as memos, their use for serial documentation, the presence of tags used for categorizing documents, and methods for discarding wooden strips, and points to similarities with Japanese wooden strips.  Hirakawa Minami on the one hand points to the possibility that the Silla documents that were affixed to eating utensils made from metal (J. sadori kaban) were connected to the submission of grains, and that the character 丑 in that text is the character 籾. On the other hand, he writes that the character 畠, which has been thought to be a character created in Japan, appears in Paekche wooden strips and the character 虫・包 appears in Silla wooden strips.  Shinohara Hirokata analyzes a text that he had discovered some ten years ago but had not had an opportunity to introduce and the text’s historical background.  Takeda Yukio considers a newly discovered rubbing to be a separate text from the Pan Zuyin rubbing in Yushi by Ye Changchi for comparison shows that differences may be seen in the stele’s direction marks, Chinese characters, and character shapes, and thus not to be the rubbing for the text in Yushi.  From the results of an archaeological investigation, Yi Pyŏngho sees the influence of the Southern Dynasties beginning with Liang in the placement of the monastery at Chŏngnimsa and in excavated clay figures, and asserts the necessity of comparisons of the Buddhist cultures of Jiankang – Puyŏ (Sabi) – Asuka.  Matsunami Hirotaka summarizes regional (state) differences and periodization differences in fortresses that have been learned in recent research. 
Developments also can be seen in empirical research founded in written sources. In Kaya history, Suzuki Hideo sets the place name “Kumanari,” which appears in a note attached to an entry for the twenty-first year of Yūryaku [477, in Nihon shoki], in South Kyŏngsang Province. He urges a re-examination of the theory that the four counties of Imna were in South Chŏlla Province.  Chŏng Tongjun examines Kwaljiji, a text whose value as a historical source is low because of mistakes in and omissions of characters, emphasizes the uniqueness of its contents, and seeks to re-evaluate the text.  In the main, there are points of agreement in Kondō Kōichi’s research focusing on the Kim Hŏnch’ang disturbance and the local maritime powers who joined it, but some doubts remain in the development of his argument and description. 
Yamasaki Masatoshi, while touching upon the concept of diaspora, argues that Silla’s Ch’uksan Pŏphwawŏn, which was in the Shandong Peninsula, handled the supervision and management of foreigners entering and leaving the peninsula, and that the event on the fifteenth day of the eighth month at the monastery was more than a festival for Silla people looking back toward their home country, it also included Silla’s antagonistic consciousness toward Koguryŏ and Parhae and political aims.  Chŏng Sun’il, too, while introducing various aspects of Silla people residing in the Japanese archipelago, positions this as one form of “coexistence.”  However, from the author’s article, it is unclear whether “coexistence” indicated only interaction between Silla people and Japanese people, or included the state’s control in which it intervened in those interactions and relocated Silla people.
In general, added to the results from empirical research and new sources, changes in perspective and their intentions have been felt. Thus, once again what is to be remembered is the concept of the East Asian world. Higashi Ajia sekai no seiritsu, volume one in the set entitled Nihon no taigai kankeishi, offers various perspectives for considering foreign relations in ancient East Asia. Among these, Kaneko Shūichi raises features of and issues in the existing theories of the tribute system and of the East Asian world, and also focuses on the point that various East Asian countries imposed orders over nearby countries and sought to construct small worlds.  The perspectives of self-other consciousness, ethnic (tribal) group, and boundary can be seen in the research of Akiyama Shingo, who found an awareness of order between those peoples that conferred seals (Wei and Jin) and those nearby ethnic groups upon which seals were conferred ; of Misaki Yoshiaki, who noted the possibility that from the second half of the second century into the first half of the third century, as seen from graves with wall paintings in the Liaoyang area, Han people and non-Han people did not live in mixed communities and maintained their societies in settings in which they did not mutually influence the other ; and of Akabame Masayoshi, who found discrepancies in textual entries that relate the places of residence of the Wŏlhŭi [Yuexi] Malgals through their movements in different periods, and in this tried to detect the autonomy of the Wŏlhŭi [Yuexi] Malgals and Parhae’s rule over tribal groups . Such perspectives also offer new issues and possibilities to research in ancient Korean history.
The creation of such perspectives and issues is not at all unrelated to problems that embrace today’s realities. One example of this is the historical argument between South Korea and China over possession of Koguryŏ history. Furutake Tōru, who has discussed the details and the development of this issue, is looking calmly at the conflict not as a mere onlooker, and is trying to point in the direction of mutual understanding.  The significance of Korean history studies in Japan can also be seen in an issue such as this.
Translator’s Note: Text in brackets has been added to clarify information in the original text. This note does not refer to the endnote numbers in brackets, however.
 金子修一「東アジア世界論」荒野泰典・石井正敏・村井章介・編『日本の対外関係史１ 東アジア世界の成立』吉川弘文館、２０１０年。
Translated by Kenneth R. Robinson
(Shigaku zasshi vol. 120 no. 5 (2010.5), 244-247. Translated and uploaded with the permission of the Shigakkai.)