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Thread: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    I honestly don't understand what the Japanese (Empress Saimei and her successor Emperor Tenji) had to gain in helping Buyeo Pung in his attempt to restore the Korean Baekje Kingdom after its fall to the joint forces of Korean Silla and Tang China in 660.

    I understand the fact that the Baekje and Japanese royal houses allegedly shared a bloodline. Yet that's hardly a reason to send such a massive naval fleet. They should have known full well that Buyeo Pung's claim to the throne was tenuous and built on sand, considering how he was holed up in his last stronghold at Churyu. Empress Saimei's response to the fall of Baekje in 660 has the curiously ambiguous statement that Baekje now placed itself in protective Japanese hands with their call for aid. Did the empress have designs to acquire Baekje for herself? Or at the least establish a formidable Japanese presence on the Korean Peninsula?

    On August 27th, 663 AD, the Japanese navy met the Tang Chinese navy at the Battle of Baekgong, along the Geum River of today's Jeollabuk-do province, while Silla forces fought Baekje's troops on the nearby banks of the river. The Tang fleet crushed the Japanese, who counted few survivors from this fiasco. After the battle and subsequent fall of Baekje's ally Goguryeo to both Silla and Tang in 668, many Baekje artisans and aristocrats fled to Japan. They were instrumental in building a large series of Korean-style castles in Japan for Emperor Tenji as a defensive ring against any possible attack by Silla or Tang (which shared friendly diplomatic relations with Japan shortly after, along with Buddhist missionaries). The ruins of some of these castles can still be seen today.

    Did the Japanese show an interest in defending Baekje due to the desired expertise and abilities of some of its nobility? In essence, what exactly did Japan have to gain from all of this?

    We certainly know what China wanted, seeing how the longtime allies Tang and Silla turned on each other due to the Tang emperor's insistence that even Silla be placed under the authority of Tang rule (i.e. The Protectorate General to Pacify the East). With the truce of 676, however, the Tang Empire was able only to hold on to territories north of the Taedong River. It was their comfort zone anyway, considering how it more or less matched the boundaries of the Lelang Commandery that the Chinese Han Dynasty had established in 108 BC with Emperor Wu's conquest of Wiman Joseon.

    For those of you who have no idea where any of these kingdoms were located, here's a basic map:


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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Seems like a good scenario for a Total war mod . I guess the obvious answer would be that the Empress wanted to gain a foothold in Asia threw Korea , however If at the time she had any reason to think that Tang China would aid Baekje that would make her insane in my eyes . As long as China would remain a single political unity there was nothing for Japan to look for , frankly it's a wonder that Korea was even independent in some periods .

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Despondent Mind View Post
    Seems like a good scenario for a Total war mod . I guess the obvious answer would be that the Empress wanted to gain a foothold in Asia threw Korea , however If at the time she had any reason to think that Tang China would aid Baekje that would make her insane in my eyes . As long as China would remain a single political unity there was nothing for Japan to look for , frankly it's a wonder that Korea was even independent in some periods .
    The Chinese emperors of various dynasties were more or less content with tribute paid to them by the Korean kings. Plus, they viewed Korea rather warmly since it was a fellow Confucian country. It was only the Han, Wei, Sui and Tang who attempted conquest, if we are to discount the Mongol Empire that morphed into the Chinese style Yuan Dynasty.

    To be honest, a Total War mod scenario involving Korea might be even better with the Imjin War of the 1590s, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded with a large Japanese fleet and Ming China came to Joseon's defense. This war actually included heavy use of gunpowder with artillery and handguns. You could also do a mod for the Mongol invasions of either Korea or Japan in the earlier 13th century.

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    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    A challenge I see? To the library!

    I shall return one day!

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

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    hellheaven1987's Avatar Comes Domesticorum
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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    The Chinese emperors of various dynasties were more or less content with tribute paid to them by the Korean kings. Plus, they viewed Korea rather warmly since it was a fellow Confucian country. It was only the Han, Wei, Sui and Tang who attempted conquest, if we are to discount the Mongol Empire that morphed into the Chinese style Yuan Dynasty.
    Han Dynasty - Korea never even existed at all; in fact archaeological evidence suggest Korean culture was furthermore developed of existing Han culture.

    Sui and Tang - both actually viewed the conquest of Korea as part of unification war of China.

    Ming - consider how Joseon was awesome Chinese state and its ruling class probably even thought they were Chinese, it would make no sense for Ming Chinese to invade Joseon Chinese, unless they did not listen to Ming.

    Qing - just another non-Chinese dynasty in Chinese history; Manchurian's opinion about Korea does not represent Chinese at all.

    Edit: To answer OP's question, Yamato Japan actually had a solid contact with Korean states from 5th Century, especially trading which was important for Japan at that time.
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; February 03, 2014 at 09:47 PM.
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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    To be honest, a Total War mod scenario involving Korea might be even better with the Imjin War of the 1590s, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded with a large Japanese fleet and Ming China came to Joseon's defense. This war actually included heavy use of gunpowder with artillery and handguns. You could also do a mod for the Mongol invasions of either Korea or Japan in the earlier 13th century.
    Imjin would be great , but in this one you have more factions (3 Korean factions alone) .

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Han Dynasty - Korea never even existed at all; in fact archaeological evidence suggest Korean culture was furthermore developed of existing Han culture.
    Yes, like in northern Vietnam, the Han brought a superior iron technology to a Bronze Age culture and imparted a sophisticated lifestyle, as well as the very idea of urban settlement. The Korean history work Samguk Sami would have us believe that the line of Korean kings stretches far back into antiquity, but we know this is most likely just mythology like the Japanese assertions about their earliest emperors (Han Chinese sources from the 1st century AD describe the country of Wa, or Japan, as heavily divided between warring hill tribes when one of their rulers sent tribute to the Han court).

    Sui and Tang - both actually viewed the conquest of Korea as part of unification war of China.
    Yes, because the Han Empire had stretched into northern Korea.

    I'm amazed at how fantastically bad Emperor Yang of Sui's invasion had fared; Goguryeo forces ambushed and tricked him at every turn. This is in stark contrast to Emperor Taizong of Tang, who seemed adept at making the Goguryeo forces run for the hills. Still, his campaign failed due to poor weather conditions in the winter, if I recall correctly. Gaozong of Tang spent quite a while after Taizong's death before choosing to invade again, of course, at the behest of the Silla court.

    I remember reading a long time ago how even the early Southern Song court debated whether or not they should invade the Korean kingdom of Goryeo in order to flank and act as a pincer movement to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty which had just taken northern China from the Song.

    Edit: To answer OP's question, Yamato Japan actually had a solid contact with Korean states from 5th Century, especially trading which was important for Japan at that time.
    Everything breaks down to economics and money, doesn't it?

    However, what was Japan's strategic goal in mind for defending Buyeo Pung's rather hopeless restoration movement? Aside from the fact that he'd spent years living in Japan and was good chums with the Japanese court. Were the Japanese fearful that the fall of Baekje would mean loss of lucrative trade relations with Korea altogether? In any case they made the wise decision to send embassies to Tang China and make nice with the Chinese after this.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    I'm amazed at how fantastically bad Emperor Yang of Sui's invasion had fared; Goguryeo forces ambushed and tricked him at every turn. This is in stark contrast to Emperor Taizong of Tang, who seemed adept at making the Goguryeo forces run for the hills. Still, his campaign failed due to poor weather conditions in the winter, if I recall correctly. Gaozong of Tang spent quite a while after Taizong's death before choosing to invade again, of course, at the behest of the Silla court.
    Long supplyline, overcentralized command system, poor training... just name few.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    However, what was Japan's strategic goal in mind for defending Buyeo Pung's rather hopeless restoration movement? Aside from the fact that he'd spent years living in Japan and was good chums with the Japanese court. Were the Japanese fearful that the fall of Baekje would mean loss of lucrative trade relations with Korea altogether? In any case they made the wise decision to send embassies to Tang China and make nice with the Chinese after this.
    Possible, we need to remember that Yamato Japan was not familiar with mainland during that time and clearly had little idea about Tang; another thing we needed to consider was that a good amount of Yamato Japanese population were migrants from mainland, mostly from Korean Peninsula, during the chaotic time when northern China was overran by nomadic barbarians for a long period. It would be understandable that many migrants might have family tie in both Japan and Korean Peninsula, just like many American royalists had feel with British monarchy and still needs to be the subject of a Queen today.
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; February 04, 2014 at 12:34 PM.
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    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Goddamn it... Korean history and Pre-Gempei Japanese history, it's like doing my taxes it's so confusing.

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Any discussion about the Korean three kingdoms phase is highly difficult and problematic. First because the situation of historical evidences are very limited besides ruler lists and because even today China and Korea are fighting about Gorguryeo. If you take for instant the Korean view than "half" of China down to Beijing was once Gorguryeo and Korean land. However, there is only one monument which tells us about this, which is the Gwanggaeto Stele (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwanggaeto_Stele). Look in to it, it is very interesting, specially the historical debate weather Gorguryeo had even colonies in Japan ect. The problem is that such information are highly difficult to interpret and translate, similar to the Egyptian Kings lists which are highly problematic as well.

    In my opinion Gorguryeo was a Korean Realm, but heavily multicultural and with a ruling upper class which were related to the other two Korean realms. They had also tribes under their wings which became later the Manchu and China's claim on Gorguryeo based mainly on that, because Manchuria became part of China and their culture at some point.

    To the cultural similarity and Chinese influence. It is true that Han China had a large influence on the early Korean culture when it had their commentaries all over the northern peninsula, but at least for this period which is called Samhan (not related to the Chinese Han) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Han) we have a unique archaeological culture which would speak against the overwhelming strong Chinese influence on Korea.


    By the way, there are a lot of great Korean Drama Series about this period which are worth to watch. You can find the streams for all of them and English subtitles if you are eager to look There are dozens but just two interesting ones for the more TW audience here which is more interested in wars

    http://asianwiki.com/The_King_Dae_Joyoung (over 100 episodes, about the last great war with Tang. Similar to the great "Romance of the three kingdoms series" from china. I would say its some kind of a classic but not to old because its from 2006).

    http://asianwiki.com/God_of_War_-_Korean_Drama (about a period similar to the japanese shogunate, where a military dictator is ruling with his slave warriors and tries to stop the Mongolian invasion in the 13th century.)
    Last edited by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus; February 04, 2014 at 04:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    @Marcus: I've seen online trailers for those Korean dramas, but never actually watched them before. Thanks for bringing them up! I've watched snippets of dramas dealing with the later Admiral Yi Sun-sin. As for the modern academic tussle about Goguryeo, this has been largely provoked by China's Northeast Project, or something similar, I can't exactly remember the name. It's basically some government-sponsored research program that aims to claim Goguryeo as a Chinese dynasty, much to the vehement protest of both North and South Korea (it's very hard to unite those two on any issue, but this is one of them).

    @Lord Oda Nobunaga: You have to remember, this is Japan before the heavy Chinese cultural influence, which basically began in the latter half of this century. The Japanese based their legal code on that of Tang China, much of their Buddhist architecture on the Tang model, their reformed military on that of the Tang army, as well as the checkerboard grid plan for the layout of their capital city. Before the Tang Dynasty, Chinese influence on Japan was very limited and indirect, usually with Korea as a cultural go between.

    @HellHeaven1987: You just jogged my memory! I remember reading about how Emperor Yang of Sui basically lorded over all his generals to the point that they had to relay every decision back to him for confirmation. I believe Goguryeo's commanders used this delay to their advantage in many cases to recoup and revitalize their forces when put into desperate situations. Yangdi was kind of a megalomaniac to begin with, but this just proves how hubris and being a control freak seals your fate in a military context.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus View Post
    By the way, there are a lot of great Korean Drama Series about this period which are worth to watch. You can find the streams for all of them and English subtitles if you are eager to look There are dozens but just two interesting ones for the more TW audience here which is more interested in wars

    http://asianwiki.com/The_King_Dae_Joyoung (over 100 episodes, about the last great war with Tang. Similar to the great "Romance of the three kingdoms series" from china. I would say its some kind of a classic but not to old because its from 2006).

    http://asianwiki.com/God_of_War_-_Korean_Drama (about a period similar to the japanese shogunate, where a military dictator is ruling with his slave warriors and tries to stop the Mongolian invasion in the 13th century.)
    There is Yeon Gaesomun (I know it is inaccurate as hell). Although I can never find it. There is also TaeJo Wang Geon, and the drama about Gwanggaeto (stupid as hell somehow it became

    a mystic show or something).

    Shouldn't the map in the OP look something like this?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Silla had taken a lot of the land in a alliance with Bakjae only to have Silla back stab Bakjae afterwards.
    Last edited by Spartan999; February 04, 2014 at 07:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan999 View Post
    Shouldn't the map in the OP look something like this?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Silla had taken a lot of the land in a alliance with Bakjae only to have Silla back stab Bakjae afterwards.
    I'm assuming that's because borders changed over time and the map you have here represents a slightly later stage. Or, as I assume, the person making the first map wasn't too bothered with accuracy. I just introduced the map as a way to give people a point of reference if they were completely unfamiliar with early Korean history and its political division.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan999 View Post
    There is Yeon Gaesomun (I know it is inaccurate as hell). Although I can never find it. There is also TaeJo Wang Geon, and the drama about Gwanggaeto (stupid as hell somehow it became

    a mystic show or something).

    Shouldn't the map in the OP look something like this?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Silla had taken a lot of the land in a alliance with Bakjae only to have Silla back stab Bakjae afterwards.
    accidentally google searched this image ... do it

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    google thinks it's japan

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    @HellHeaven1987: You just jogged my memory! I remember reading about how Emperor Yang of Sui basically lorded over all his generals to the point that they had to relay every decision back to him for confirmation. I believe Goguryeo's commanders used this delay to their advantage in many cases to recoup and revitalize their forces when put into desperate situations. Yangdi was kind of a megalomaniac to begin with, but this just proves how hubris and being a control freak seals your fate in a military context.
    If you think that was bad, try to read the military history of Song; at least Emperors of Sui and Tang Dynasty were generally stayed close to frontline, while Emperors of Song Dynasty just stayed in capital and every decision had to pass back to capital before be sent back to front.
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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    If you think that was bad, try to read the military history of Song; at least Emperors of Sui and Tang Dynasty were generally stayed close to frontline, while Emperors of Song Dynasty just stayed in capital and every decision had to pass back to capital before be sent back to front.
    Oh, we've discussed the Song Dynasty's military incompetence before. It was legendary. Regardless, the Song period remains my favorite in Imperial China's history for the flourishing of the arts and sciences. From the 11th to 13th centuries it sported such renowned contemporaneous figures as the polymath scientists Shen Kuo and Su Song, the poets Su Shi and Li Qingzhao, the forensic medical writer Song Ci and mathematician Yang Hui, the monumentally talented painters Zhang Zeduan and Fan Kuan, and pioneers in the burgeoning fields of epigraphy and archaeology such as Ouyang Xiu.

    The Yuan and Ming periods had their own innovations, but arguably not as many. Aside from stimulation by introduction of European tech and ideas, the Qing Dynasty witnessed even fewer significant innovations.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Innovation was useless if it was not applicable; just like Germany could design better tank but lack of resource to build new tanks would still make those "innovations" on paper only.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Innovation was useless if it was not applicable; just like Germany could design better tank but lack of resource to build new tanks would still make those "innovations" on paper only.
    Well, the Song certainly made the effort, considering how much gunpowder technology improved from the 11th to 13th centuries. The formula for gunpowder also became more potent from when it was first mentioned in the Wujing Zongyao in 1044. At first, it was only capable of shredding through weak casings made out of materials like paper, no more than a weak combustible. By the mid 13th century, the Song army's bombs were able to shred through cast iron casings upon explosion. Not long after that the very first bronze-cast handguns were invented.

    They certainly applied a new technology in this case; it just wasn't effective enough to counter the Jurchens or the Mongols. As you already know, the Song leadership wasn't just a bureaucratic mess in regards to delegating military command; it also lacked spine and resolve. Just look at the ultimate fate of Yue Fei, one of the Song's most able generals, at the hands of Qin Hui.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Here's an interesting piece of modern art depicting a Korean cavalryman from Korea's Three Kingdoms period, located at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul.



    I wonder, did the Asuka-period Japanese have riders who were this well armored in iron scale mail? I remember reading that the Japanese of this period had mounted aristocrats who wore iron armor. For instance, here's a slightly earlier Kofun-era 5th-century Japanese "haniwa" clay statue of a warrior wearing what appears to be iron scale mail and a plated helmet like the Korean cavalryman shown above:



    I'm not sure how useful these are for depicting military garb of the time period, but here is a pair of Tang Chinese "tomb guardian" ceramic figurines to show a comparison:



    It almost looks like plate armor, but it's most likely just a stylistic choice to leave out the detail of the scale mail. For instance, here's a contemporaneous Tang Chinese sculpted relief that clearly shows iron scale mail armor being worn on a tomb guardian:



    That dude looks pretty fat to me. Must be out of shape from eating all that amazing Kung Pao Chicken.

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    Default Re: Why did Yamato Japan aid Baekje against Silla and Tang China?

    Tang Chinese already wore some sore of partial plate that used solid metal plate to reinforce some crucial points, such as heart (similar as today's bullet proof vest). I am not sure whether Japan wore armor which heavily built by metals before Heian period, but certainly the contact with Tang had influenced Japanese armor development.

    Edit: Did a quick check on Wiki and apartly Japanese did wear full metal armor before Heian.
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