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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yoshimitsu had intended to pass over Yoshimochi


these considerations induced the Ashikaga chief not only to issue orders for the restraint of the corsairs, but also to receive from the Chinese Court despatches in which he was plainly designated the king of a country tributary to China, and to make answer in language unequivocally endorsing the propriety of such terminology. In one despatch, dated February, 1403, Yoshimitsu described himself as a "subject of Ming" and, "prostrate, begged to present twenty horses, ten thousand catties of sulphur, thirty-two pieces of agate, three gold-foil folding screens, one thousand lances, one hundred swords, a suit of armour, and an ink-stone." It is recorded that he even humbled himself so far as to ask for supplies of Chinese coins, and certainly these comparatively pure copper tokens remained largely in circulation in Japan down to Tokugawa times, under the name of Eiraku-tsuho, Eiraku being the Japanese sound of the Chinese year-period, Yunglo (1403-1422).


Yoshimitsu died in 1408. He was accorded by the Court the posthumous rank of Dajo Tenno (ex-Emperor), a proof of the extraordinary confusion of etiquette caused by his arrogant pretensions. The Chinese sovereign, Yunglo, sent a message of sympathy to the Japanese potentate's son, Yoshimochi, in which the deceased was designated "Prince Kung-hsien," but Yoshimochi, though not distinguished for ability, had sufficient wisdom ultimately to adopt

the advice of the kwanryo, Shiba Yoshimasa, and to decline the rank of Dajo Tenno, as well as to break off relations with the Ming ruler. Yoshimochi also handed over the magnificent edifice at Kita-yama to the Buddhist priesthood.


In 1412, the Emperor Go-Komatsu abdicated in favour of his son Shoko (101st sovereign), then twelve years old. This sovereign abandoned himself to the profligacy of the era. It is doubtful whether his reason was not unhinged. Some accounts say that he fell into a state of lunacy; others, that he practised magic arts. At all events he died childless in 1428, and was succeeded by a grandson of the Emperor Suko, Go-Hanazono, then in his tenth year. Thus, the claims of the Southern dynasty were ignored twice consecutively, and its partisans made armed protests in the provinces, as has been already noted. But these struggles proved abortive, and thereafter history is no more troubled with such episodes. The Daikagu-ji line disappears altogether from view, and the throne is occupied solely by representatives of the Jimyo-in. There can be very little doubt that the former was the legitimate branch; but fortune was against it.


Yoshimochi, son of Yoshimitsu, became shogun (1395) at the age of nine, and the administration was conducted by Hosokawa Mitsumoto, Shiba Yoshishige, and Hatakeyama Mitsuiye. Twenty-eight years later, that is to say, in 1423, he abdicated in favour of his son, Yoshikazu. The cause of that step deserves notice. Yoshimitsu had intended to pass over Yoshimochi, his first-born, in favour of his second son, Yoshitsugu, but death prevented the consummation of that design. Yoshimochi, however, knew that it had been entertained. Therefore, after the death of their father, he seized Yoshitsugu, threw him into prison, and ultimately caused him to be killed. With the blood of his younger brother on his hands he abdicated in favour of his own sixteen-year-old son, Yoshikazu. But the latter died--some historians say that dissipation destroyed him--in two years, and having no second son to succeed, Yoshimochi himself resumed the office of shogun, holding it until his death, in 1428.

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