feel a certain kinship with…

日本と韓国との人々の間には,古くから深い交流があったことは,日本書紀などに詳しく記されています。韓国から移住した人々や,招へいされた人々によって,様々な文化や技術が伝えられました。宮内庁楽部の楽師の中には,当時の移住者の子孫で,代々楽師を務め,今も折々に雅楽を演奏している人があります。こうした文化や技術が,日本の人々の熱意と韓国の人々の友好的態度によって日本にもたらされたことは,幸いなことだったと思います。日本のその後の発展に,大きく寄与したことと思っています。私自身としては,桓武天皇の生母が百済の武寧王の子孫であると,続日本紀に記されていることに,韓国とのゆかりを感じています。武寧王は日本との関係が深く,この時以来,日本に五経博士が代々招へいされるようになりました。また,武寧王の子,聖明王は,日本に仏教を伝えたことで知られております。

しかし,残念なことに,韓国との交流は,このような交流ばかりではありませんでした。このことを,私どもは忘れてはならないと思います。

That the people of Korea and Japan have from ages past had deep interchange is recorded in detail in the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan, compiled in 720), among other historical records. Those who immigrated or were invited to come to Japan from Korea [ People who migrated, and people who were invited, from Kankoku ] introduced culture and technology. Of the musicians in the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency, some are direct descendants of musicians who came over to Japan from Korea [ descendants of the migrants ] at that time, and have inherited the music for generations and still perform the Gagaku (Imperial Court Music) on various occasions. It was truly fortunate that such culture and technology was brought to Japan through the enthusiasm of Japanese people and the friendly attitude of the Korean people. I also believe that it contributed greatly to Japan’s subsequent development. I, on my part, feel a certain kinship with Korea, given the fact that it is recorded in the Shoku Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan [ Continued Chronicles of Japan ], compiled in 797), that the mother of Emperor Kammu (reign 781-806) was of the line of King Muryong (reign 501-523) of the Kingdom of Paekche*. King Muryong had strong relations with Japan, and it was from his time that masters of the Five Chinese Classics (books compiling the teaching of Confucianism) were invited to Japan one after another to teach Confucianism. King Song Myong (reign 523-554), son of King Muryong, is recognized as the one who introduced Buddhism to Japan.

It is regrettable however that Japan’s exchanges with Korea have not all been of this kind. This is something that we should never forget.

His Majesty The Heavenly Sovereign Emperor Akihito, Responses to Questions on the Occasion of His Birthday translated by William Wetherall, 18 December 2001

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