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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The Empress Saimei decided that Kudara must be succoured



It has been shown how, in A.D. 562, the Japanese settlement in Mimana was exterminated; how the Emperor Kimmei's dying behest to his successor was that this disgrace must be removed; how subsequent attempts to carry out his testament ended in failure, owing largely to Japan's weak habit of trusting the promises of Shiragi, and how, in 618, the Sui Emperor, Yang, at the head of a great army, failed to make any impression on Korea.

Thereafter, intercourse between Japan and the peninsula was of a fitful character unmarked by any noteworthy event until, in the second year (651) of the "White Pheasant" era, the Yamato Court essayed to assert itself in a futile fashion by refusing to give audience to Shiragi envoys because they wore costumes after the Tang fashion without offering any excuse for such a caprice. Kotoku was then upon the Japanese throne, and Japan herself was busily occupied importing and assimilating Tang institutions. That she should have taken umbrage at similar imitation on Shiragi's part seems capricious. Shiragi sent no more envoys, and presently (655), finding herself seriously menaced by a coalition between Koma and Kudara, she applied to the Tang Court for assistance. The application produced no practical response, but Shiragi, who for some time had been able to defy the other two principalities, now saw and seized an opportunity offered by the debauchery and misrule of the King

of Kudara. She collected an army to attack her neighbour and once more supplicated Tang's aid. This was in the year 660. The second appeal produced a powerful response. Kao-sung, then the Tang Emperor, despatched a general, Su Ting-fang, at the head of an army of two hundred thousand men. There was now no long and tedious overland march round the littoral of the Gulf of Pechili and across Liaotung. Su embarked his forces at Chengshan, on the east of the Shantung promontory, and crossed direct to Mishi-no-tsu--the modern Chemulpo--thus attacking Kudara from the west while Shiragi moved against it from the east. Kudara was crushed. It lost ten thousand men, and all its prominent personages, from the debauched King downwards, were sent as prisoners to Tang. But one great captain, Pok-sin, saved the situation. Collecting the fugitive troops of Kudara he fell suddenly on Shiragi and drove her back, thereafter appealing for Japanese aid.

At the Yamato Court Shiragi was now regarded as a traditional enemy. It had played fast and loose again and again about Mimana, and in the year 657 it had refused safe conduct for a Japanese embassy to the Tang Court. The Empress Saimei decided that Kudara must be succoured. Living in Japan at that time was Phung-chang,* a younger brother of the deposed King of Kudara. It was resolved that he should be sent to the peninsula accompanied by a sufficient force to place him on the throne. But Saimei died before the necessary preparations were completed, and the task of carrying out a design which had already received his endorsement devolved upon Prince Naka, the great reformer. A fleet of 170 ships carrying an army of thirty-seven thousand men escorted Phung-chang from Tsukushi, and the kingdom of Kudara was restored. But the conclusive battle had still to be fought. It took place in September, 662, at Paik-chhon-ku (Ung-jin), between the Chinese under Liu Jen-kuei, a Tang general, and the Japanese under Atsumi no Hirafu. The forces were about equal on each side, and it was the first signal trial of strength between Chinese and Japanese. No particulars have been handed down by history. Nothing is known except that the Japanese squadron drove straight ahead, and that the Chinese attacked from both flanks. The result was a crushing defeat for the Japanese. They were shattered beyond the power of rallying, and only a remnant found its way back to Tsukushi. Kudara and Koma fell, and Japan lost her last footing in a region where her prestige had stood so high for centuries.

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