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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Omi of the Soga and minister of the Left


Immediately

after Tenchi's death, which took place at the close of 671, and after the accession of Prince Otomo--known in history as the Emperor Kobun--the conspirators began to concert measures for the destruction of Prince Oama, whom they regarded as a fatal obstacle to the achievement of their purpose. But the Emperor Kobun's consort, Toichi, was a daughter of Prince Oama, and two sons of the latter, Takaichi and Otsu, were also in the Court at Omi. By these three persons Yoshino was kept fully informed of everything happening at Omi. Oama fled precipitately. He did not even wait for a palanquin or a horse. His course was shaped eastward, for two reasons: the first, that his domains as Prince Imperial had been in Ise and Mino; the second, that since in the eastern provinces the Daika reforms had been first put into operation, in the eastern provinces, also, conservatism might be expected to rebel with least reluctance.

The struggle that ensued was the fiercest Japan had witnessed since the foundation of the empire. For twenty days there was almost continuous fighting. The prince's first measure was to block the passes on the eastward high-roads, so that the Omi forces could not reach him till he was fully ready to receive them. Thousands flocked to his standard, and he was soon able to assume the offensive. On the other hand, those whom the Omi Court summoned to arms declined for the most part to respond. The nation evidently regarded Prince Oama as the

champion of the old against the new. The crowning contest took place at the Long Bridge of Seta, which spans the waters of Lake Biwa at the place where they narrow to form the Seta River. Deserted by men who had sworn to support him, his army shattered, and he himself a fugitive, the Emperor fled to Yamazaki and there committed suicide. His principal instigator, muraji of the Nakatomi and minister of the Right, with eight other high officials, suffered the extreme penalty; Akae, omi of the Soga and minister of the Left, had to go into exile, but the rest of Kobun's followers were pardoned. Not because of its magnitude alone but because its sequel was the dethronement and suicide of a legitimate Emperor, this struggle presents a shocking aspect to Japanese eyes. It is known in history as the "Jinshin disturbance," so called after the cyclical designation of the year (672) when it occurred.

THE FORTIETH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR TEMMU (A.D. 673-686)

Prince Oama succeeded to the throne and is known in history as the fortieth Sovereign, Temmu. During the fourteen years of his reign he completed the administrative systems of the Daika era, and asserted the dignity and authority of the Court to an unprecedented degree. Among the men who espoused his cause in the Jinshin struggle there are found many names of aristocrats who boasted high titles and owned hereditary estates. Whatever hopes these conservatives entertained of a reversion to the old-time-order of things, they were signally disappointed. The Daika reformers had invariably contrived that conciliation should march hand in hand with innovation. Temmu relied on coercion. He himself administered State affairs with little recourse to ministerial aid but always with military assistance in the background. He was especially careful not to sow the seeds of the abuses which his immediate predecessors had worked to eradicate. Thus, while he did not fail to recognize the services of those that had stood by him in the Jinshin tumult, he studiously refrained from rewarding them with official posts, and confined himself to bestowing titles of a purely personal character together with posthumous rank in special cases.


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