State Formation in Korea and Japan, 400-800 CE: Emulation and Learning, not Bellicist Competition

47 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Chin-Hao Huang

Chin-Hao Huang

Yale-NUS College

David Kang

University of Southern California

Date Written: January 30, 2021


Abstract: State Formation in Korea and Japan, 400-800 CE
State formation in Korea and Japan occurred a thousand years before it did in Europe, and it occurred for reasons of emulation and learning, not bellicist competition. Korea and Japan emerged as states between the 4th and 8th centuries CE and existed for centuries thereafter with centralized bureaucratic control defined over territory and administrative capacity to tax their populations, field large militaries, and provide extensive public goods. They created these institutions not to wage war or suppress revolt – the longevity of dynasties in these countries is evidence of both the peacefulness of their region and their internal stability. Rather, Korea and Japan developed state institutions through emulation and learning from China. State formation in historical East Asia occurred under a hegemonic system in which war was relatively rare, not under a balance of power system with regular existential threats. Why? We focus here on diffusion through a combination of emulation and learning: domestic elites copied Chinese civilization for reasons of prestige and domestic legitimacy.

Keywords: State Formation, emulation, bellicist competition, Korea and Japan

Suggested Citation

Huang, Chin-Hao and Kang, David, State Formation in Korea and Japan, 400-800 CE: Emulation and Learning, not Bellicist Competition (January 30, 2021). International Organization, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Chin-Hao Huang

Yale-NUS College ( email )

28 College Ave West
Singapore, 138533


David Kang (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
90089 (Fax)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics