I am in the process of reading The First Samurai - The Life and Legend of the Warrior Rebel Taira Masakado, by Karl F. Friday, published by John Wiley & Sons (2008), ISBN 978-0-471-76082-5.
I am piqued by a reference on page 12 (Chapter 1 Masakado and His Legacy) on the mention linking the Taika Reforms in AD 646 to a perceived threat from the Tang Dynasty in China.
The reformers succeeded through an esoteric combination of cajolery, cooptation, and coercion, aided in no small measure by widespread apprehension over the very real - or so it seems at the time - threat of Chinese attack on the homeland. Specters of Tang invasion fleets looming over the horizon served to mute opposition to losses of local or hereditary privilige and to promote support for state-strengthening reforms, as central and provincial noble houses set aside their differences in the face of a perceived common enemy. For it was obvious to all concerned that the Yamato military organization was far from equal to the task of fending off the Tang.
 Batten, Bruce. "Foreign Threat and Domestic Reform: The Emergence of the Ritsuryo State," Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer, 1986), pp. 10-14.
Inoue Mitsusada (1975) and Bruce Batten (1986), among others, argue that it was. But I have not read their arguments, so I cannot comment on how convincing they are.
Unfortunately, this thread is slightly off-track, as the original poster didn't reference correctly. In the paragraph before, Friday writes: 'In the wake of this spectacular coup d'etat, [against the Soga] Tenji and his supporters introduced a series of centralising measures collectively known as the Taika Reforms, after the calender era in which they were first launched. Over the next few decades
, the great regional powers were stripped of their independent bases...' Friday is talking of the entire reform movement from Taika to Taiho, not solely the Taika Reforms. His arguments are similar to Herman Ooms's.
Batten also does not argue for this. In the referenced article, he states: 'Ishimoda, pp. 48-71, interprets the Taika coup itself as an attempt to concentrate power in response to external threats, ultimately traceable to Tang expansionism. The weak point of this interesting hypothesis is that there is little evidence of a real or perceived foreign threat during the 640s.' It is Ishimoda Shō, in fact, who propagates the theory. Also, whilst Mitsusada does argue for this, he theorises that it was an indirect influence, though doesn't seem to come up with much evidence to support this assumption, from what I've read. The only modern scholar I've seen so far to argue that the Taika Reforms were a direct
result of Tang expansionism is the aforementioned Farris.
The Japanese weren't threatened by Tang until 650, when the latter allied with Silla. This supposedly 'proved' they had expansionist tendencies towards Japan, which isn't in itself unreasonable. The Taika Reforms came about from reformist elements within the Imperial court, who had studied under various Chinese monks and returning Japanese students. I believe the reforms were more a response to: i) the growing influence of court clans, such as the Soga, who were on the brink of usurping the throne, ii) other internal threats (such as the Emishi), and iii) a desire to emulate a more advanced culture.
I believe the real problem here is people declaring the entire reform movement of 645-702 a result of Tang expansionism and failing to identify the Taika Reforms as separate. This is something I'm challenging in a forthcoming article.
There are many other indirect evidence of Japanese paranoia. In volume 217, Nihonshoki mentioned four envoys from the Tang in 664, 667, 669, and 671. Yet none of these could be found in Chinese sources. The Japanese even tried to link the Mount Tai ritual of Tang Gao zong in 666 with the battle of Baijiang kou when it had nothing to do with it. Furthermore according to Nihonshoki, during the Tang envoy Liu Degao's visit in 665, the Japanese made a military display at Tudao in an attempt to awe the envoy and prevent a Tang invasion.
I also found that there seems to be a shortage of Chinese accounts of Tang imperial diplomatic ventures to Japan.
There are also a lack of Chinese sources pertaining to Yamato delegations, such as the 653 and 654 missions, which go unrecorded in official histories. As far as the five Chinese embassies following the battle of Baekgang go (two were sent in 671, one under Li Shouzen and one under Guo Wuzong), even though we're relying on the often controversial Ninhonshoki,
I haven't heard of any scholars dismissing the missions out of hand as Japanese paranoia (though there is of course debate about the nature and intention of the missions). It's more than possible that records of the missions were lost in the three centuries between their voyages and the compilation of the Tangshu
The Nihongi and the Niho Shoki is the same book, the former is an abbreviation of the later.
Perhaps he was referring to the Shoku Nihongi.
Edited by f0ma, 12 September 2012 - 09:23 AM.