Occupation of Japan
The Allied occupation of Japan at the end of World War II was led by General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, with support from the British Commonwealth. Unlike in the occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union was allowed little to no influence over Japan; this foreign presence marks the only time in Japan's history that it has been occupied by a foreign power. The country became a parliamentary democracy that recalled "New Deal" priorities of the 1930s by Roosevelt; the occupation, codenamed Operation Blacklist, was ended by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951, effective from April 28, 1952, after which Japan's sovereignty – with the exception, until 1972, of the Ryukyu Islands – was restored. According to John Dower, in his book Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq, the factors behind the success of the occupation were: Discipline, moral legitimacy, well-defined and well-articulated objectives, a clear chain of command and flexibility in policy formulation and implementation, confidence in the ability of the state to act constructively, the ability to operate abroad free of partisan politics back home, the existence of a stable, sophisticated civil society on the receiving end of occupation policies – these political and civic virtues helped make it possible to move decisively during the brief window of a few years when defeated Japan itself was in flux and most receptive to radical change.
Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 14, 1945, when the Japanese government notified the Allies that it had accepted the Potsdam Declaration. On the following day, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender on the radio; the announcement was the emperor's first planned radio broadcast and the first time most citizens of Japan heard their sovereign's voice. This date is known as Victory over Japan, or V-J Day, marked the end of World War II and the beginning of a long road to recovery for a shattered Japan. Japanese officials left for Manila, Philippines on August 19 to meet MacArthur and to be briefed on his plans for the occupation. On August 28, 1945, 150 US personnel flew to Kanagawa Prefecture, they were followed by USS Missouri, whose accompanying vessels landed the 4th Marine Regiment on the southern coast of Kanagawa. The 11th Airborne Division was airlifted from Okinawa 30 miles from Tokyo. Other Allied personnel followed. MacArthur arrived in Tokyo on August 30, decreed several laws.
No Allied personnel were to assault Japanese people. No Allied personnel were to eat the scarce Japanese food. Flying the Hinomaru or "Rising Sun" flag was severely restricted; this restriction was lifted in 1948 and lifted the following year. On September 2, 1945, Japan formally surrendered with the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. On September 6, US President Truman approved a document titled "US Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan"; the document set two main objectives for the occupation: eliminating Japan's war potential and turning Japan into a democratic-style nation with pro-United Nations orientation. Allied forces were set up to supervise the country, "for eighty months following its surrender in 1945, Japan was at the mercy of an army of occupation, its people subject to foreign military control." At the head of the Occupation administration was General MacArthur, technically supposed to defer to an advisory council set up by the Allied powers, but in practice did not and did everything himself.
As a result, this period was one of significant American influence, described near the end of the occupation in 1951 that "for six years the United States has had a freer hand to experiment with Japan than any other country in Asia, or indeed in the entire world." Looking back to his work among the Japanese, MacArthur said, "Measured by the standards of modern civilization, they would be like a boy of twelve" compared to the maturity of the US and Germany, had a good chance of putting away their troubled past. On V-J Day, US President Harry Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, to supervise the occupation of Japan. During the war, the Allied Powers had planned to divide Japan amongst themselves for the purposes of occupation, as was done for the occupation of Germany. Under the final plan, however, SCAP was given direct control over the main islands of Japan and the surrounding islands, while outlying possessions were divided between the Allied Powers as follows: Soviet Union: North Korea, South Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands United States: South Korea, the Amami Islands, the Ogasawara Islands and Japanese possessions in Micronesia China: Taiwan and Penghu It is unclear why the occupation plan was changed.
Common theories include the increased power of the United States following development of the atomic bomb, Truman's greater distrust of the Soviet Union when compared with Roosevelt, an increased desire to restrict Soviet influence in East Asia after the Yalta Conference. The Soviet Union had some intentions of occupying Hokkaidō. Had this occurred, there might have been a communist state in the Soviet zone of occupation. However, unlike the Soviet occupations of East Germany and North Korea, these plans were frustrated by Truman's opposition. MacArthur's first priority was to set up a food distribution network. With these
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between China and Japan over influence in Korea. After more than six months of unbroken successes by Japanese land and naval forces and the loss of the port of Weihaiwei, the Qing government sued for peace in February 1895; the war demonstrated the failure of the Qing dynasty's attempts to modernize its military and fend off threats to its sovereignty when compared with Japan's successful Meiji Restoration. For the first time, regional dominance in East Asia shifted from China to Japan; the humiliating loss of Korea as a tributary state sparked an unprecedented public outcry. Within China, the defeat was a catalyst for a series of political upheavals led by Sun Yat-sen and Kang Youwei, culminating in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution; the war is known in China as the War of Jiawu, referring to the year as named under the traditional sexagenary system of years. In Japan, it is called the Japan–Qing War. In Korea, where much of the war took place, it is called the Qing–Japan War.
After two centuries, the Japanese policy of seclusion under the shōguns of the Edo period came to an end when the country was opened to trade by the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. In the years following the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the fall of the shogunate, the newly formed Meiji government embarked on reforms to centralize and modernize Japan; the Japanese had sent delegations and students around the world to learn and assimilate Western arts and sciences, with the intention of making Japan an equal to the Western powers. These reforms transformed Japan from a feudal society into a modern industrial state; the Qing Dynasty had started to undergo reform in both military and political doctrine, but was far from successful. In January 1864, Cheoljong of Joseon died without a male heir, through Korean succession protocols Gojong of Korea ascended the throne at the age of 12. However, as King Gojong was too young to rule, the new king's father, Yi Ha-ŭng, became the Heungseon Daewongun, or lord of the great court, ruled Korea in his son's name as regent.
The term Daewongun referred to any person, not the king but whose son took the throne. With his ascendancy to power the Daewongun initiated a set of reforms designed to strengthen the monarchy at the expense of the Yangban class, he pursued an isolationist policy and was determined to purge the kingdom of any foreign ideas that had infiltrated into the nation. In Korean history, the king's in-laws enjoyed great power the Daewongun acknowledged that any future daughters-in-law might threaten his authority. Therefore, he attempted to prevent any possible threat to his rule by selecting as a new queen for his son an orphaned girl from among the Yŏhŭng Min clan, which lacked powerful political connections. With Empress Myeongseong as his daughter-in-law and the royal consort, the Daewongun felt secure in his power. However, after she had become queen, Min recruited all her relatives and had them appointed to influential positions in the name of the king; the Queen allied herself with political enemies of the Daewongun, so that by late 1873 she had mobilized enough influence to oust him from power.
In October 1873, when the Confucian scholar Choe Ik-hyeon submitted a memorial to King Gojong urging him to rule in his own right, Queen Min seized the opportunity to force her father-in-law's retirement as regent. The departure of the Daewongun led to Korea's abandonment of its isolationist policy. On February 26, 1876, after confrontations between the Japanese and Koreans, the Ganghwa Treaty was signed, opening Korea to Japanese trade. In 1880, the King sent a mission to Japan, headed by Kim Hong-jip, an enthusiastic observer of the reforms taking place there. While in Japan, the Chinese diplomat Huang Zunxian presented him with a study called "Chaoxian Celue", it warned of the threat to Korea posed by the Russians and recommended that Korea maintain friendly relations with Japan, at the time too economically weak to be an immediate threat, to work with China, seek an alliance with the United States as a counterweight to Russia. After returning to Korea, Kim presented the document to King Gojong, so impressed with the document that he had copies made and distributed to his officials.
In 1880, following Chinese advice and breaking with tradition, King Gojong decided to establish diplomatic ties with the United States. After negotiations through Chinese mediation in Tianjin, the Treaty of Peace, Amity and Navigation was formally signed between the United States and Korea in Incheon on May 22, 1882. However, there were two significant issues raised by the treaty, the first concerned Korea's status as an independent nation. During the talks with the Americans, the Chinese insisted that the treaty contain an article declaring that Korea was a dependency of China and argued that the country had long been a tributary state of China, but the Americans opposed such an article, arguing that a treaty with Korea should be based on the Treaty of Ganghwa, which stipulated that Korea was an independent state. A compromise was reached, with Shufeldt and Li agreeing that the King of Korea would notify the U. S president in a letter that Korea had special status as a tributary state of China.
The treaty between the Korean government and the United States became the model for all treaties between it and other Western countries. Korea signed similar trade and commerce treaties with Great Britain and Germany in 1883, with Italy and
The Russo-Japanese War was fought during 1904-1905 between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea and the Yellow Sea. Russia sought a warm-water port on the Pacific Ocean for maritime trade. Vladivostok was operational only during the summer, whereas Port Arthur, a naval base in Liaodong Province leased to Russia by China, was operational all year. Since the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, Japan feared Russian encroachment on its plans to create a sphere of influence in Korea and Manchuria. Russia had demonstrated an expansionist policy in the Siberian Far East from the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century. Seeing Russia as a rival, Japan offered to recognize Russian dominance in Manchuria in exchange for recognition of Korea as being within the Japanese sphere of influence. Russia refused and demanded Korea north of the 39th parallel to be a neutral buffer zone between Russia and Japan.
The Japanese government perceived a Russian threat to its plans for expansion into Asia and chose to go to war. After negotiations broke down in 1904, the Japanese Navy opened hostilities by attacking the Russian Eastern Fleet at Port Arthur, China, in a surprise attack. Russia suffered multiple defeats by Japan, but Tsar Nicholas II was convinced that Russia would win and chose to remain engaged in the war. Russia ignored Japan's willingness early on to agree to an armistice and rejected the idea to bring the dispute to the Arbitration Court at The Hague; the war concluded with the Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by US President Theodore Roosevelt. The complete victory of the Japanese military surprised world observers; the consequences transformed the balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japan's recent entry onto the world stage. It was the first major military victory in the modern era of an Asian power over a European one. Scholars continue to debate the historical significance of the war.
After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Meiji government endeavored to assimilate Western ideas, technological advances and ways of warfare. By the late 19th century, Japan had transformed itself into a modernized industrial state; the Japanese wanted to be recognized as equal with the Western powers. The Meiji Restoration had been intended to make Japan a modernized state, not a Westernized one, Japan was an imperialist power, looking towards overseas expansionism. In the years 1869–73, the Seikanron had bitterly divided the Japanese elite between one faction that wanted to conquer Korea vs. another that wanted to wait until Japan was more modernized before embarking on a war to conquer Korea. Worse, the Western Powers were conquering small pieces of China and China had dominated Korea with its military for centuries; the Japanese were doing what they could to emulate the West in every way possible, including conqering and occupying its neighbors. In much the same way that Europeans used the "backwardness" of African and Asian nations as a reason for why they had to conquer them, for the Japanese elite the "backwardness" of China and Korea was proof of the inferiority of those nations, thus giving the Japanese the "right" to conquer them.
Inouye Kaoru, the Foreign Minister, gave a speech in 1887 saying "What we must do is to transform our empire and our people, make the empire like the countries of Europe and our people like the peoples of Europe", going to say that the Chinese and Koreans had forfeited their right to be independent by not modernizing. Much of the pressure for an aggressive foreign policy in Japan came from below, with the advocates of "people's rights" movement calling for an elected parliament favoring an ultra-nationalist line that took it for granted the Japanese had the "right" to annex Korea, as the "people's right" movement was led by those who favored invading Korea in the years 1869–73; as part of the modernization process in Japan, Social Darwinian ideas about the "survival of the fittest" were common in Japan from the 1880s onward and many ordinary Japanese resented the heavy taxes imposed by the government to modernize Japan, demanding something tangible like an overseas colony as a reward for their sacrifices.
Furthermore, the educational system of Meiji Japan was meant to train the schoolboys to be soldiers when they grew up, as such, Japanese schools indoctrinated their students into Bushidō, the fierce code of the samurai. Having indoctrinated the younger generations into Bushidō, the Meiji elite found themselves faced with a people who clamored for war, regarded diplomacy as a weakness; the British Japanologist Richard Storry wrote the biggest misconception about Japan in the West was that the Japanese people were the "docile" instruments of the elite, when in fact much of the pressure for Japan's wars from 1894 to 1941 came from below, as ordinary people demanded a "tough" foreign policy, tended to engage in riots and assassination when foreign policy was perceived to be pusillanimous. Though the Meiji oligarchy refused to allow democracy, they did seek to appropriate some of the demands of the "people's rights" movement by allowing an elected Diet in 1890 (with limited powers and an equally
History of Japan
The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times. The Jōmon period, named after its "cord-marked" pottery, was followed by the Yayoi in the first millennium BC when new technologies were introduced from continental Asia. During this period, the first known written reference to Japan was recorded in the Chinese Book of Han in the first century AD. Between the fourth century and the ninth century, Japan's many kingdoms and tribes came to be unified under a centralized government, nominally controlled by the Emperor; this imperial dynasty continues to reign over Japan. In 794, a new imperial capital was established at Heian-kyō, marking the beginning of the Heian period, which lasted until 1185; the Heian period is considered a golden age of classical Japanese culture. Japanese religious life from this time and onwards was a mix of native Shinto practices and Buddhism. Over the following centuries, the power of the Emperor and the imperial court declined and passed to the military clans and their armies of samurai warriors.
The Minamoto clan under Minamoto no Yoritomo emerged victorious from the Genpei War of 1180–85. After seizing power, Yoritomo took the title of shōgun. In 1274 and 1281, the Kamakura shogunate withstood two Mongol invasions, but in 1333 it was toppled by a rival claimant to the shogunate, ushering in the Muromachi period. During the Muromachi period regional warlords called daimyōs grew in power at the expense of the shōgun. Japan descended into a period of civil war. Over the course of the late sixteenth century, Japan was reunified under the leadership of the daimyō Oda Nobunaga and his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After Hideyoshi's death in 1598, Tokugawa Ieyasu came to power and was appointed shōgun by the Emperor; the Tokugawa shogunate, which governed from Edo, presided over a prosperous and peaceful era known as the Edo period. The Tokugawa shogunate imposed a strict class system on Japanese society and cut off all contact with the outside world. Portugal and Japan started their first affiliation in 1543, making the Portuguese the first Europeans to reach Japan by landing in the southern archipelago of Japan.
The Netherlands was the first to establish trade relations with Japan, Japan–Netherlands relations dating back to 1609. The American Perry Expedition in 1853–54 more ended Japan's seclusion; the new national leadership of the following Meiji period transformed the isolated feudal island country into an empire that followed Western models and became a great power. Although democracy developed and modern civilian culture prospered during the Taishō period, Japan's powerful military had great autonomy and overruled Japan's civilian leaders in the 1920s and 1930s; the military invaded Manchuria in 1931, from 1937 the conflict escalated into a prolonged war with China. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to war with its allies. Japan's forces soon became overextended, but the military held out in spite of Allied air attacks that inflicted severe damage on population centers. Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender on 15 August 1945, following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
The Allies occupied Japan until 1952, during which a new constitution was enacted in 1947 that transformed Japan into a constitutional monarchy. After 1955, Japan enjoyed high economic growth, became a world economic powerhouse. Since the 1990s, economic stagnation has been a major issue. An earthquake, tsunami in 2011 caused massive economic dislocations and a serious nuclear power disaster; the mountainous Japanese archipelago stretches northeast to southwest 3,000 km off the east of the Asian continent at the convergence of four tectonic plates. The steep, craggy mountains that cover two-thirds of its surface are prone to quick erosion from fast-flowing rivers and to mudslides, they have hampered internal travel and communication and driven the population to rely on transportation along coastal waters. There is a great variety to its regions' geographical features and weather patterns, with a Wet season, in most parts in early summer. Volcanic soil that washes along the 13% of the area that makes up the coastal plains provides fertile land, the temperate climate allows long growing seasons, which with the diversity of flora and fauna provide rich resources able to support the density of the population.
A accepted periodization of Japanese history: Land bridges, during glacial periods when the world sea level is lower, have periodically linked the Japanese archipelago to the Asian continent via Sakhalin Island in the north and via the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan in the south since the beginning of the current Quaternary glaciation 2.58 million years ago. There may have been a land bridge to Korea in the southwest, though not in the 125,000 years or so since the start of the last interglacial; the Korea Strait was, quite narrow at the Last Glacial Maximum from 25,000 to 20,000 years BP. The earliest firm evidence of human habitation is of early Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers from 40,000 years ago, when Japan was separated from the continent. Edge-ground axes dating to 32–38,000 years ago found in 224 sites in Honshu and Kyushu are unlike anything found in neighbouring areas of continental Asia, have been proposed as evidence for the first Homo sapiens in Japan. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the earliest fossils in
The Edo period or Tokugawa period is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyō. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, "no more wars", popular enjoyment of arts and culture; the shogunate was established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 1868, after the fall of Edo. A revolution took place from the time of the Kamakura shogunate, which existed with the Tennō's court, to the Tokugawa, when the samurai became the unchallenged rulers in what historian Edwin O. Reischauer called a "centralized feudal" form of shogunate. Instrumental in the rise of the new-existing bakufu was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main beneficiary of the achievements of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Powerful, Ieyasu profited by his transfer to the rich Kantō area.
He maintained two million koku of land, a new headquarters at Edo, a strategically situated castle town, had an additional two million koku of land and thirty-eight vassals under his control. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu moved to seize control from the Toyotomi clan. Ieyasu's victory over the western daimyō at the Battle of Sekigahara gave him control of all Japan, he abolished numerous enemy daimyō houses, reduced others, such as that of the Toyotomi, redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. Ieyasu still failed to achieve complete control of the western daimyō, but his assumption of the title of shōgun helped consolidate the alliance system. After further strengthening his power base, Ieyasu installed his son Hidetada as shōgun and himself as retired shōgun in 1605; the Toyotomi were still a significant threat, Ieyasu devoted the next decade to their eradication. In 1615, the Tokugawa army destroyed the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka; the Tokugawa period brought 250 years of stability to Japan.
The political system evolved into what historians call bakuhan, a combination of the terms bakufu and han to describe the government and society of the period. In the bakuhan, the shōgun had national authority and the daimyō had regional authority; this represented a new unity in the feudal structure, which featured an large bureaucracy to administer the mixture of centralized and decentralized authorities. The Tokugawa became more powerful during their first century of rule: land redistribution gave them nearly seven million koku, control of the most important cities, a land assessment system reaping great revenues; the feudal hierarchy was completed by the various classes of daimyō. Closest to the Tokugawa house were the shinpan, or "related houses", they were twenty-three daimyō on the borders of Tokugawa lands. The shinpan held honorary titles and advisory posts in the bakufu; the second class of the hierarchy were the fudai, or "house daimyō", rewarded with lands close to the Tokugawa holdings for their faithful service.
By the 18th century, 145 fudai controlled the greatest assessed at 250,000 koku. Members of the fudai class staffed most of the major bakufu offices. Ninety-seven han formed the tozama, former opponents or new allies; the tozama were located on the peripheries of the archipelago and collectively controlled nearly ten million koku of productive land. Because the tozama were least trusted of the daimyō, they were the most cautiously managed and generously treated, although they were excluded from central government positions; the Tokugawa shogunate not only consolidated their control over a reunified Japan, they had unprecedented power over the emperor, the court, all daimyō and the religious orders. The emperor was held up as the ultimate source of political sanction for the shōgun, who ostensibly was the vassal of the imperial family; the Tokugawa helped the imperial family recapture its old glory by rebuilding its palaces and granting it new lands. To ensure a close tie between the imperial clan and the Tokugawa family, Ieyasu's granddaughter was made an imperial consort in 1619.
A code of laws was established to regulate the daimyō houses. The code encompassed private conduct, dress, types of weapons and numbers of troops allowed. Although the daimyō were not taxed per se, they were levied for contributions for military and logistical support and for such public works projects as castles, roads and palaces; the various regulations and levies not only strengthened the Tokugawa but depleted the wealth of the daimyō, thus weakening their threat to the central administration. The han, once military-centered domains, became mere local administrative units; the daimyō did have full administrative control over their territory and their complex systems of retainers and commoners. Loyalty was exacted from religious foundations greatly weakened by Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, through a variety of control mechanisms. Like Hideyoshi, Ieyasu encouraged foreign trade but was suspicious of outsiders, he wanted to make Edo a major port, but once he learned that the Europeans favored ports in Kyūshū and that China had rejected his plans for official trade, he moved to control existing trade
The Sengoku period is a period in Japanese history marked by social upheaval, political intrigue and near-constant military conflict. Japanese historians named it after the otherwise unrelated Warring States period in China, it was initiated by the Ōnin War, which collapsed the Japanese feudal system under the Ashikaga shogunate, came to an end when the system was re-established under the Tokugawa shogunate by Tokugawa Ieyasu. During this period, although the Emperor of Japan was the ruler of his nation and every lord swore loyalty to him, he was a marginalized and religious figure who delegated power to the shōgun, a noble, equivalent to a generalissimo. In the years preceding this era the Shogunate lost influence and control over the daimyōs. Although the Ashikaga shogunate had retained the structure of the Kamakura shogunate and instituted a warrior government based on the same social economic rights and obligations established by the Hōjō with the Jōei Code in 1232, it failed to win the loyalty of many daimyōs those whose domains were far from the capital, Kyoto.
Many of these Lords began to fight uncontrollably with each other for control over land and influence over the shogunate. As trade with Ming China grew, the economy developed, the use of money became widespread as markets and commercial cities appeared. This, combined with developments in agriculture and small-scale trading, led to the desire for greater local autonomy throughout all levels of the social hierarchy; as early as the beginning of the 15th century, the suffering caused by earthquakes and famines served to trigger armed uprisings by farmers weary of debt and taxes. The Ōnin War, a conflict rooted in economic distress and brought on by a dispute over shogunal succession, is regarded as the onset of the Sengoku period; the "eastern" army of the Hosokawa family and its allies clashed with the "western" army of the Yamana. Fighting in and around Kyoto lasted for nearly 11 years, leaving the city completely destroyed; the conflict in Kyoto spread to outlying provinces. The period culminated with a series of three warlords, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who unified Japan.
After Tokugawa Ieyasu's final victory at the siege of Osaka in 1615, Japan settled down into several centuries of peace under the Tokugawa shogunate. The Ōnin War in 1467 is considered the starting point of the Sengoku period. There are several events which could be considered the end of it: Nobunaga's entry to Kyoto or abolition of the Muromachi shogunate, the Siege of Odawara, the Battle of Sekigahara, the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate, or the Siege of Osaka; the upheaval resulted in the further weakening of central authority, throughout Japan regional lords, called daimyōs, rose to fill the vacuum. In the course of this power shift, well-established clans such as the Takeda and the Imagawa, who had ruled under the authority of both the Kamakura and Muromachi bakufu, were able to expand their spheres of influence. There were many, whose positions eroded and were usurped by more capable underlings; this phenomenon of social meritocracy, in which capable subordinates rejected the status quo and forcefully overthrew an emancipated aristocracy, became known as gekokujō, which means "low conquers high".
One of the earliest instances of this was Hōjō Sōun, who rose from humble origins and seized power in Izu Province in 1493. Building on the accomplishments of Sōun, the Late Hōjō clan remained a major power in the Kantō region until its subjugation by Toyotomi Hideyoshi late in the Sengoku period. Other notable examples include the supplanting of the Hosokawa clan by the Miyoshi, the Toki by the Saitō, the Shiba clan by the Oda clan, in turn replaced by its underling, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a son of a peasant with no family name. Well-organized religious groups gained political power at this time by uniting farmers in resistance and rebellion against the rule of the daimyōs; the monks of the Buddhist True Pure Land sect formed numerous Ikkō-ikki, the most successful of which, in Kaga Province, remained independent for nearly 100 years. After nearly a century of political instability and warfare, Japan was on the verge of unification by Oda Nobunaga, who had emerged from obscurity in the province of Owari to dominate central Japan, when in 1582 Oda was assassinated by one of his generals, Akechi Mitsuhide.
This in turn provided Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had risen through the ranks from ashigaru to become one of Oda's most trusted generals, with the opportunity to establish himself as Oda's successor. Toyotomi consolidated his control over the remaining daimyōs and, although he was ineligible for the title of Sei-i Taishōgun because of his common birth, ruled as Kampaku. During his short reign as Kampaku, Toyotomi attempted two invasions of Korea; the first spanning from 1592 to 1596 was successful but suffered setbacks to end in stalemate. When Toyotomi died in 1598 without leaving a capable successor, the country was once again thrust into political turmoil, this time Tokugawa Ieyasu took advantage of the opportunity. Toyotomi had on his deathbed appointed a group of the most powerful lords in Japan—Tokugawa, Maeda Toshiie, Ukita Hideie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, Mōri Terumoto—to govern as the Council of
Naval history of Japan
The naval history of Japan can be said to begin in early interactions with states on the Asian continent in the early centuries of the 1st millennium, reaching a pre-modern peak of activity during the 16th century, a time of cultural exchange with European powers and extensive trade with the Asian mainland. After over two centuries of relative seclusion under the Tokugawa shogunate, Japan's naval technologies were seen to be no match for Western navies when the country was forced by American intervention in 1854 to abandon its maritime restrictions; this and other events led to the Meiji Restoration, a period of frantic modernization and industrialization accompanied by the re-ascendence of the Emperor, making the Imperial Japanese Navy the third largest navy in the world by 1920, arguably the most modern at the brink of World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy's history of successes, sometimes against much more powerful foes as in the 1894–1895 Sino-Japanese War and the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, ended with the navy's complete annihilation in 1945 against the United States Navy, official dissolution at the end of the conflict.
Japan's current navy falls under the umbrella of the Japan Self-Defense Forces as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. It is still one of the top navies in the world in terms of budget, although it is denied any offensive role by the nation's Constitution and public opinion. Japan seems to have been connected to the Asian landmass during the last Ice Age until around 20,000 BCE, both because of glaciation of sea water and the concomitant lowering of sea level by about 80 to 100 meters; this allowed for the transmission of fauna and flora, including the establishment of the Jōmon culture. After that period however, Japan became an isolated island territory, depending on sporadic naval activity for its interactions with the mainland; the shortest seapath to the mainland involved two stretches of open water about 50 kilometers wide, between the Korean peninsula and the island of Tsushima, from Tsushima to the major island of Kyūshū. Various influences have been suggested from the direction of the Pacific Ocean, as various cultural and genetic traits seem to point to partial Pacific origins in relation with the Austronesian expansion.
Ambassadorial visits to Japan by the Northern Chinese dynasties Wei and Jin recorded that some Japanese people claimed to be descendants of Taibo of Wu, refugees after the fall of the Wu state in the 5th century BCE. History books do have records of Wu Taibo sending 4000 females to Japan; the first major naval contacts occurred in the Yayoi period in the 3rd century BCE, when rice-farming and metallurgy were introduced, from the continent. The 14 AD incursion of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, is the earliest Japanese military action recorded in Samguk Sagi. According to that record, Wa sent one hundred ships and led an incursion on the coastal area of Silla before being driven off. During the Yamato period, Japan had intense naval interaction with the Asian continent centered around diplomacy and trade with China, the Korean kingdoms, other mainland states, since at latest the beginning of the Kofun period in the 3rd century. According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, Empress Jingū is claimed to have invaded Korea in the 3rd century, to have returned victorious after three years.
Whether Japan ruled a part of Korea in ancient times is debated. Other than the expedition of Empress Jingū, battle of Hakusukinoe, one of the earliest historical events in Japan's naval history took place in 663. Japan sent 32,000 troops and as many as 1,000 ships to Korea to support the declining Baekje kingdom against Silla and Tang-dynasty China, they were defeated by the T'ang-Silla combined force. Naval battles of a large scale, fought between Japanese clans and involving more than 1000 warships, are recorded from the 12th century; the decisive battle of the Genpei War, one of the most famous and important naval battles in pre-modern Japanese history, was the 1185 battle of Dan-no-ura, fought between the fleets of the Minamoto and Taira clans. These battles consisted first of long-range archery exchanges giving way to hand-to-hand combat with swords and daggers. Ships were used as floating platforms for what were land-based melee tactics; the first major references to Japanese naval actions against other Asian powers occur in the accounts of the Mongol invasions of Japan by Kublai Khan in 1281.
Japan had no navy which could challenge the Mongol navy, so most of the action took place on Japanese land. Groups of samurai, transported on small coastal boats, are recorded to have boarded, taken over and burned several ships of the Mongol navy. During the following centuries, wakō pirates plundered the coast of the Chinese Empire. Though the term wakō translates directly to "Japanese pirates", Japanese were far from the only sailors to harass shipping and ports in China and other parts of Asia in this period, the term thus more includes non-Japanese pirates as well; the first raid by wakō on record occurred on the south coast of Goryeo. At the peak of wakō activity around the end of the 14th century, fleets of 300 to 500 ships, transporting several hundred horsemen and several thousand soldiers, would raid the coast of China. For the next half-century, sailing principally from Iki Island and Tsushima, they engulfed coastal regions of the southern half of Goryeo. Between 1376 and 1385, no fewer than 174 instances of pirate raids were