Monday, January 7, 2013
Regent Profile: Toyotomi Hideyoshi of Japan
He played a key role in the victorious battle of Anegawa in which the Oda forces allied with the Tokugawa in 1570 and three years later Nobunaga made him daimyo of three districts from which base he further established himself and became very important in organizing logistical support such as in the increased production of muskets and in 1576 he again took the field to conquer Chugoku. After 1582, when Nobunaga was assassinated, Hideyoshi gained the support of many clan leaders and in the aftermath defeated his rivals to be recognized as the successor of Nobunaga. In 1583 he began building Osaka Castle which would be the primary base of the Toyotomi clan and which remains one of the most recognizable landmarks in Japan today and a symbol of the cultural heritage of the country. When through warfare and diplomacy he overcame Tokugawa Ieyasu which effectively made him the most powerful man in Japan. In 1585 he was named regent, along with other titles and in 1588 had the honor of hosting His Majesty Emperor Go-Yozei. He subdued further regions and by 1590 had eliminated all domestic resistance to his rule.
In 1592 the first Japanese troops landed in Korea and by the following month they had swept aside all opposition and occupied the royal capital of Seoul, the court fleeing to Pyongyang until that city too fell to the Japanese. By the following year though resistance was mounting as Ming Emperor Wanli dispatched a large Chinese army to Korea to block the Japanese advance and re-conquer the peninsula. The combined Sino-Korean forces began pushing the Japanese back, re-taking Pyongyang and advancing into the south before stalling in front of Seoul. Hideyoshi sent another expeditionary force to Korea but they were barely able to hold their own against the masses of Chinese troops to their front and debilitating Korean guerilla warfare in their rear. The Japanese still managed to fight off several massive offensives before Hideyoshi accepted that victory was impossible and ordered them to withdraw. He died on September 18, 1598 before the retreat was completed and the sad news was kept secret until all the warriors were back on Japanese soil.