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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yoshinaka interfered to prevent his appointment


when the fact of these pressing invitations to Yoritomo reached Yoshinaka's ears, he felt some resentment, and this was reflected in the demeanour of his soldiers, outrages against the lives and properties of the citizens becoming more and more frequent. Even the private domains of the cloistered Emperor himself, to say nothing of the manors of the courtiers, were freely entered and plundered, so that public indignation reached a high pitch. The umbrage thus engendered was accentuated by treachery. Driven from Kyushu, the Taira chiefs had obtained a footing in Shikoku and had built fortifications at Yashima in Sanuki, which became thenceforth their headquarters. They had also collected on the opposite coast of the Inland Sea a following which seemed likely to grow in dimensions, and, with the idea of checking that result, it was proposed to send troops to the Sanyo-do under Minamoto Yukiiye, who had been named governor of Bizen. Taught, however, by experience that disaster was likely to be the outcome of Yukiiye's generalship, Yoshinaka interfered to prevent his appointment, and Yukiiye, resenting this slight, became thenceforth a secret foe of Yoshinaka.

In analyzing the factors that go to the making of this complicated chapter of Japanese history, a place must be given to Yukiiye. He seems to have been an unscrupulous schemer. Serving originally under Yoritomo, who quickly took his measure, he concluded that nothing substantial was to be gained

in that quarter. Therefore, he passed over to Yoshinaka, who welcomed him, not as an enemy of Yoritomo, but as a Minamoto. Thenceforth Yukiiye's aim was to cause a collision between the two cousins and to raise his own house on the ruins of both. He contributed materially to the former result, but as to the latter, the sixth year of his appearance upon the stage as Prince Mochihito's mandate-bearer saw his own head pilloried in Kyoto.

Yoshinaka, however, had too frank a disposition to be suspicious. He believed until the end that Yukiiye's heart was in the Minamoto cause. Then, when it became necessary to choose, between taking stupendous risks in the west or making a timely withdrawal to the east, he took Yukiiye into his confidence. That was the traitor's opportunity. He secretly informed the ex-Emperor that Yoshinaka had planned a retreat to the east, carrying his Majesty with him, and this information, at a time when the excesses committed by Yoshinaka's troops had provoked much indignation, induced Go-Shirakawa to obtain from Hiei-zan and Miidera armed monks to form a palace-guard under the command of the kebiishi, Taira Tomoyasu, a declared enemy of Yoshinaka. At once Yoshinaka took a decisive step. He despatched a force to the palace; seized the persons of Go-Shirakawa and Go-Toba; removed Motomichi from the regency, appointing Moroie, a boy of twelve, in his place, and dismissed a number of Court officials.

In this strait, Go-Shirakawa, whose record is one long series of undignified manoeuvres to keep his own head above water, applied himself to placate Yoshinaka while privately relying on Yoritomo. His Majesty granted to the former the control of all the domains previously held by the Taira; appointed him to the high office of sei-i tai-shogun (barbarian-subduing generalissimo), and commissioned him to attack Yoritomo while, at the same time, the latter was secretly encouraged to destroy his cousin. At that moment (February, 1184), Yoritomo's two younger brothers, Yoshitsune and Noriyori, were en route for Kyoto, where they had been ordered to convey the Kwanto taxes. They had a force of five hundred men only, but these were quickly transformed into the van of an army of fifty or sixty thousand, which Yoritomo, with extraordinary expedition, sent from Kamakura to attack Yoshinaka.

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