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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The Kudara army suffered almost complete extermination


At

all events, in answer to often iterated entreaties from Kudara, the Yamato Court did not make any practical response until the year 551, when it sent five thousand koku of barley-seed (?), followed, two years later, by two horses, two ships, fifty bows with arrows, and--a promise. Kudara was then ruled by a very enterprising prince (Yo-chang). Resolving to strike separately at his enemies, Koma and Shiragi, he threw himself with all his forces against Koma and gained a signal victory (553). Then, at length, Japan was induced to assist. An omi was despatched (554) to the peninsula with a thousand soldiers, as many horses and forty ships. Shiragi became at once the objective of the united forces of Kudara and Japan. A disastrous defeat resulted for the assailants. The Kudara army suffered almost complete extermination, losing nearly thirty thousand men, and history is silent as to the fate of the omi's contingent. Nevertheless the fear of Japanese vengeance induced Shiragi to hold its hand, and, in the year 561, an attempt was made twice to renew friendly relations with the Yamato Court by means of tribute-bearing envoys. Japan did not repel these overtures, but she treated the envoy of the victorious Shiragi with less respect than that extended to the envoy of the vanquished Kudara.

In the spring of the following year (562), Shiragi invaded Mimana, destroyed the Japanese station there and overran the whole region (ten provinces). No warning had

reached Japan. She was taken entirely unawares, and she regarded it as an act of treachery on Shiragi's part to have transformed itself suddenly from a tribute-bearing friend into an active enemy. Strangely enough, the King of Shiragi does not appear to have considered that his act precluded a continuance of friendly relations with the Yamato Court. Six months after his invasion of Mimana he renewed the despatch of envoys to Japan, and it was not until their arrival in Yamato that they learned Japan's mood. Much to the credit of the Yamato Court, it did not wreak vengeance on these untimely envoys, but immediately afterwards an armed expedition was despatched to call Shiragi to account. The forces were divided into two corps, one being ordered to march under Ki no Omaro northwest from Mimana and effect a junction with Kudara; the other, under Kawabe no Nie, was to move eastward against Shiragi. This scheme became known to the Shiragi generals owing to the seizure of a despatch intended for Kudara. They attempted to intercept Omaro's corps, but were signally defeated.

The movement under Kawabe no Nie fared differently. Japanese annals attempt to palliate his discomfiture by a story about the abuse of a flag of truce, but the fact seems to have been that Kawabe no Nie was an incompetent and pusillanimous captain. He and his men were all killed or taken prisoners, the only redeeming feature being the intrepidity of a Japanese officer, Tsugi no Ikina, who, with his wife and son, endured to be tortured and killed rather than utter an insult against their country.

It is difficult to interpret the sequence of events after this catastrophe. Japan immediately despatched a strong army--from thirty to forty thousand men--but instead of directing it against Shiragi, sent it to the attack of Koma, under advice of the King of Kudara. Possibly the idea may have been to crush Koma, and having thus isolated Shiragi, to deal with the latter subsequently. If so, the plan never matured. Koma, indeed, suffered a signal defeat at the hands of the Japanese, Satehiko, muraji of the Otomo, but Shiragi remained unmolested, and nothing accrued to Japan except some attractive spoils--curtains of seven-fold woof, an iron house, two suits of armour, two gold-mounted swords, three copper belts with chasings, two variously coloured flags, and two beautiful women. Even as to the ultimate movements of Satehiko and his army the annals are silent.


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