The Controversy over the Ancient Korean State of Gaya: A Fresh Look at the Korea–Japan History War

  • Pankaj Mohan


The importance of history as a tool to propagate and legitimize imperialist expansion can hardly be overemphasized. In the late nineteenth century when aggressive nationalism of Meiji Japan threatened to explode into imperialist penetration into the Korean peninsula, records about Korea, particularly the small state of Gaya (known as Mimana in Japanese) on the tip of the peninsula, assumed a new significance. The major objective and function of the two historical texts, the Kojiki and the Nihongi, dating to the early eighth century appears to be propagation of the power and prestige of the Imperial line and the leading clans of the Yamato state, and therefore, they provide a strongly propagandist account of how a centralized state assuming control of the entire Japanese archipelago in the fourth century reached out to extend its power into the Korean peninsula. This chapter seeks to trace positive contributions made by Japanese and Korean historians of the postwar era who utilized recent archaeological data and employed innovative methodology to provide a fresh understanding of Korea–Japan relations in the ancient times. The chapter argues that Korea-related accounts in the early eighth-century historical texts from Japan are no more than a mirror image of later events thrown backward by the court historians. It undertakes a dispassionately objective analysis of the existing works on the topic and utilizes new sources to provide a balanced understanding of the character of the state of Gaya and its significance to Korea–Japan relations


Korean Peninsula Fourth Century Sixth Century Historical Text Korean State 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pankaj Mohan
    • 1
  1. 1.Nalanda UniversityNalandaIndia

Personalised recommendations