Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Where is your faith?" - Unique Empress Jingu of Japan


Unique Empress Jingu of Japan 

There is one unique empress in the Japanese history.   Empress Jingu is the wife of the 14th Emperor Chuai who is thought to be one of imaginary Emperors depicted in the old history book Nihon Shoki.

The Nihon Shoki (The Chronicle of Japan) was  completed in 720 as an official history book of the imperial court.  It contains not only imaginary emperors in early periods of the history of the imperial court but also myths that link the imperial family to gods.

Accordingly, the 14th Emperor Chuai is thought to be one of imaginary emperors the authors of the Nihon Shoki created to make the imperial court appear to have a long history.  But, there is still arguments as to whether or not Empress Jingu really existed in an early period of the imperial court history.

Specifically before the end of WWII, children in Japan were taught that Empress Jingu really existed and she led troops to conquer the Korean Peninsula, though her husband Emperor Chuai died of a diseases in Kyosyu while preparing for invasion of Korea.

Japanese nationalists after the Meiji Restoration of the imperial authority in 1868, when the last samurai regime fell, respected the Nihon Shoki as a kind of sacred book, since it is the only remaining imperial history book written when the imperial court had been in the Yamato area (presently Nara Prefecture) before moving to Kyoto in 794.  And, they believed historical existence of Empress Jingu and thus her conquest of Korea.

It is said that this notion of Empress Jingu and the conquest of Korea by her became an underlying motivation of the annexation of the Kingdom of Korean into the Empire of Japan in 1910, though there must have been more realistic reasons for the annexation such as precaution against and prevention of annexation of Korea by China or Russia.

Empress Jingu is treated respectfully in the Nihon Shoki that allocates one independent volume to her, though it is only emperors that are given independent volumes in the Nihon Shoki.  Empress Jingu is literally in a class of herself.   There are no other empresses depicted so much as Empress Jingu in the Nihon Shoki.  So, there must be specific reasons.

The key is found in the Nihon Shoki itself.   It has an annotation in the volume allocated to Empress Jingu that an ancient Chinese imperial court mistook Empress Jingu as the queen of Yamatai in its history book.

Yamatai is an ancient Japanese territory where queen Himiko lived, according to the Chinese history book called the Book of Wei written in the sixth century.   The Book of Wei told that Japanese queen Himiko asked diplomatic and military support of the emperor of the Northern Wei of China in the third century.  Himiko sent a mission to the Nothern Wei, and the Chinese emperor replied to her with many gifts such as bronze mirrors.   Since Yamatai where queen Himiko lived looks like a Chinese expression at the time of Yamato, where the Japanese imperial court had been situated, it is natural to regard Himiko as one of ancestors of the Japanese imperial family.  But the authors of the Nihon Shoki did not take this supposition.  Instead, they wrote about Empress Jingu with the interesting annotation in the Nihon Shoki.

So, the description of Empress Jingu in the history book Nihon Shoki about the early Japanese imperial court shows the strong will of the Japanese imperial court in the early eighth century that Japan had never been subject to China (like Himiko as reported in the Book of Wei),  and Japan had once conquered Korea (though the Japanese imperial court had had a strong tie with one of Korean kingdoms before the eighth century that had lost a war against a coalition of China and another Korean kingdom to disappear from history while Japan had militarily supported the kingdom).

That is why Japanese nationalists who respect the imperial court and the Nihon Shoki never respect China and Korea even today, without mentioning Japanese nationalists before the end of WWII.

Interestingly, before the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when modernization and Westernization of Japan started, Empress Jingu had been regarded as one of female emperors who had been set up in some rare cases in the history of the imperial court.  But, in 1926, Jingu was officially excluded from past emperors to be positioned as empress, though very unique as depicted in the Nihon Shoki.

Incidentally, the kanji letter used for Jin of Jingu means a god and that for gu of Jingu means fame.   And, any other emperors with names where the kanji character meaning a god is used are highly regraded emperors such as Emperor Jinmu, the first emperor of Japan according to the Nihon Shoki.  

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Luk 8:25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.