Sep 25, 2019 in History

Evaluating the Significance of Buddhism in Fostering Relations Between China, Korea, and Japan Between 600-900


Religion has been in existence for a long time. It is worth noting the religious beliefs are an essential element in building relationships among communities and nations. In fact, this is the reason religion is treasured is that it encourages unity and understanding among people. Most of the people in the world today are united by the faith and beliefs defined by their religion. Indeed, the spread of religion, in particular Buddhism in East Asia, has largely contributed to the fostering unity among Eastern Asian countries. Even though some of the religions have led to creation of rivalry, especially in cases where people with differing opinions are treated as outcasts, Buddhism religion was important in building ties in Eastern Asia. It is established that Japanese, Chinese and Koreans relationships thrived under Buddhism. Today, the peace and harmony experienced between the three countries is attributed to the fundamental role played by the Buddhism between 600-900. Current paper examines the significance of Buddhism, specifically in building relations between Korea, China and Japan between seventh and the tenth century.

Chinese and Japanese Buddhism has been bonded by the rich history that defines the relationship between the two nations. It is noted that the relationship was strengthened following the numerous voyages Buddhist monks made, in their bid to spread Buddhism in East Asia. According to Fogel, Buddhism in Japan spread widely because of the increased interactions with Koreans. Most of the monks living in Korea traveled to Japan, with the aim of spreading Buddhism and subsequently fostering unity among East Asia nations. As such, the nations that were initially divided on an account of differences in culture and ethnicity, formed connections and strong ties by embracing Buddhism. The existence of the bonds among East Asia nations is attributed to the similar teachings used in Buddha teaching in China, Japan, and Korea. Notably, even though previously China and Japan had been involved in the war, Buddhism was essential in strengthening the ties between Japan and China, thus the realization of peace between the two countries. In fact, the bitterness that led the China and Japan to enter into war was forgotten because of the unity realized by Buddhism.

Buddhism advocates for respect in all interactions. For this reason, all the interaction that took place between China, Korea, and Japan had to conform to Buddhism doctrines. It is established that respect is essential in building ties and lasting relationships. It is established that the values shared by both the Buddhists and the Mahayana traditionalists played a crucial role in strengthening ties in Eastern Asia, considering that each party respected the views of the other. Building of any relationships requires the understanding of each other’s moral values, and its importance is that it provides an avenue for developing a working partnership. In addition, having a common value makes it relatively easier to build bonds, given that the parties are guided by the same principles of unity and corporation. In this sense, the continuous spread of Buddhism encouraged people to reason differently, but stay focused on a similar goal. In doing this, the different ideologies raised were noted to be beneficial to the East Asia communities.

In addition, the friendship between Japan and China was strengthened by the geographical location between the two countries, which allowed both Japanese and Chinese to interact freely. China and Japan are noted to have a strong influence in Asia, and the friendship that has long existed between the countries has been crucial in realization of peace, not only in within the two states, but also to the larger Asian continent. Friendships among monks from the three countries fostered unity that culminated to a cordial relationship in East Asia. For instance, the famous friendship is between the late Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, who founded the Rissho Kosei-Kai in Japan and the President of the Buddhist Association of China, the late Rev. Zhao Puchu. Their close association was fundamental in strengthening relationships between China and Japan. As a Buddhist priest, Rev. Niwano believed that a friendly association between Japan and China, in the end, would benefit the larger community in East Asia. Through his religious activities, he managed to draw together religious leader in the World Conference for Peace, as well as in the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace. The two conferences were important in bonding and creating of alliances geared towards peace, growth and development.

Based on values and the teachings of the Buddhists, it is clear that Buddhism is the most tolerant region in East Asia. As a result, offered an appropriate avenue for developing and building relationships between Japanese, Chinese and Korea, considering the three countries constitutes people from different faiths. In Korea, the Buddhists focused on other people opinions and ideologies, especially those from different faith had their views considered, too. In addition, Korean Buddhists seemed to be more tolerant, despite its sharp differences with other religions that were already established in Korea, China, and Japan. As Buswell notes, most Buddhists in Korea preferred to take a passive stand on political issues, considering political activities would likely create divisions, thus jeopardizing relationships. This notion is attributed to the belief that politics results to discrimination of individuals, for instance, making biased decisions based on an individual’s political affiliations. However, having the same stand defined by the Buddhist religion, the relationship between the nations improved and unity was largely embraced among the Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese. The citizens in the countries could sit together and design the development programs that would appropriately serve people in East Asia region. As such, Buddhism was pivotal in fostering growth and development, as it encouraging sharing of ideas and was an effective platform for disseminating information. Given that Buddhism tolerates differences in views among people, it provided a possibility for the people to discuss the issues affecting them, as they tried to address such issues together.


Buddhism is strongly related to Confucianism, whose core values include introspection and self-examination. These values are fundamental in interactions and in building relationships. As a result, it advocates for the correction of an individual’s thoughts, as well as exercising of care when speaking to other people. Such belief played a significant role in shaping the people morally across the three countries between 600 and 900. Consequently, all the negotiations that took place between Japan, Korea and China had to put into consideration the values associated with Confucianism, as well as Buddhism. In fact, training centers were opened, which were aimed at teaching people on the importance of the values stipulated in Confucianism. As a result, many people were enlightened through the program, especially on the importance of developing partnerships that enhances growth and self-development.

Most of the Buddhist priests were concerned about transforming their believers into better and focused individual individuals in the society. Thus, creating a society whose principles are corporation and unity, especially in devising ways of solving problems. To achieve such goal, it was important for the priests to show that they are responsible for their roles as mentors and they effectively shape the appropriate behaviors. In order to achieve such goals, the priests need to reflect on their deeds, and act as an example for other believers to follow. Based on the efforts shown by the Buddhist priests, it is clear that they were determined to use the religion as a source of unity among the believers. As Buddhism continued spreading in East Asia, it managed to ensure unity in East Asia, resulting to more people coming together share valuable ideas.

As Como notes, the Buddhism is centered on meaningful formation within the power system, and this was essential as Japan, Korea and China interacted between 600-900. According to his argument, understanding and effectively controlling different forms of knowledge is vital in reshaping power relationships. In this context, the importance of power relations is outlined in the development of Japanese, in the disguise of those based across the sea, specifically those in Korean peninsula. It should be noted that even though the voice of local resistance increased, there was calmness from across the sea as more people were enlightened through Buddhism. In addition, Buddhism acted as a pillar in the transformation of the religious and cultural life among the residents of Archipelago. Indeed, it was pivotal in the spreading of the Shōtoku cult. Shōtoku is praised in Japan, and he is regarded as the guardian deity, culture giver and the priest king. By following the religious teachings, the Japanese were able to turn their rivals into friends, and thereby building the relationships with China and Korea in the seventh and tenth century. Even in the present day Japan, it is evident that some religious aspects are common to both China and Korea, have defined the major cultural practices in Japan.


In conclusion, current paper has examined the significance of Buddhism, specifically in building relations between Korea, China and Japan between 600 and 900. It was noted that religious belief are essential in building relationships in most of the nations. Even though some of the religions have been at the forefront in inciting rivalry, Buddhist was aimed at uniting countries of East Asia, as noted in Korea, China, and Japan cases. Moreover, Japan, China and Korea benefitted from the thriving relationship in the relationship developed and strengthened under Buddhism. Buddhism is considered as a religion that is the most tolerant compared to other religions and, therefore, offered an appropriate basis for promoting ties among Japanese, Chinese and Korea. Considering the close relationship between Buddhism and Confucianism, values such as introspection and self-examination were promoted, and this was essential in fostering relationships. Most of the Buddhist monks were concerned about transforming the believers into people who are ready to embrace and respect other people’s views, which resulted to strengthened ties in East Asian nations.


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