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Thus, after a severe fight which cost the Japanese
twenty-three hundred men, they had to evacuate Pyong-yang and retreat
towards Seoul, the army under Kato Kiyomasa retiring at the same time
from the northeast and fighting its way back to the central route.
Orders were then issued by the commander-in-chief, Ukita, for the
whole of the Japanese forces in the north of the peninsula to
concentrate in Seoul, but Kohayakawa, one of Hideyoshi's most trusted
generals, whose name has occurred more than once in these annals,
conducted a splendid covering movement at a place a few miles
northward of Seoul, the result of which was that the Chinese fled in
haste over the Injin, losing ten thousand men in their retreat.

But, though the Japanese had thus shaken off the pursuit, it was
impossible for them to continue in occupation of Seoul. The
conditions existing there were shocking. Widespread famine menaced,
with its usual concomitant, pestilence. According to Korean history,
the streets of the city and the roads in the suburbs were piled with
corpses to a height of ten feet above the wall. The Japanese,
therefore, made proposals of peace, and the Chinese agreed, on
condition that the Japanese gave up two Korean princes held captive
by them, and retired to the south coast of the peninsula. These terms
were accepted, and on May 9, 1593, that is to say, 360 days after the
landing of the invaders' van at Fusan, the evacuation of the Korean
capital took place. The Chinese commanders showed great lack of
enterprise. They failed to utilize the situation, and in October of
the same year they withdrew from the peninsula all their troops
except ten thousand men. Negotiations for permanent peace now
commenced between the Governments of Japan and China, but while the
pourparlers were in progress the most sanguinary incident of the
whole war took place. During the early part of the campaign a
Japanese attack had been beaten back from Chinju, which was reckoned
the strongest fortress in Korea. Hideyoshi now ordered that the
Japanese troops, before sailing for home, should rehabilitate their
reputation by capturing this place, where the Koreans had mustered a
strong army. The order was obeyed. Continuous assaults were delivered
against the fortress during the space of nine days, and when it
passed into Japanese possession the Koreans are said to have lost
between sixty and seventy thousand men and the casualties on the
Japanese side must have been almost as numerous.

THE NEGOTIATIONS

After the fall of Chinju, all the Japanese troops, with the exception
of Konishi's corps, were withdrawn from Korea, and the Japanese
confined their operations to holding a cordon of twelve fortified
camps along the southern coast of the peninsula. These camps were
nothing more than bluffs overlooking the sea on the south, and
protected on the land side by moats and earthworks. The action at
Chinju had created some suspicion as to the integrity of Japan's
designs, but mainly through the persistence and tact of the Chinese
envoy, Chen Weiching, terms were agreed upon, and on October 21,
1596, a Chinese mission reached Japan and proceeded to Osaka. The
island had just then been visited by a series of uniquely disastrous
earthquakes, which had either overthrown or rendered uninhabitable
all the great edifices in and around Kyoto. One corner of Osaka
Castle alone remained intact, and there the mission was received.
Hideyoshi refused to give audience to the Korean members of the
mission, and welcomed the Chinese members only, from whom he expected
to receive a document placing him on a royal pinnacle at least as
high as that occupied by the Emperor of China. The document actually
transmitted to him was of a very different significance as the
following extract shows:

The Emperor, who respects and obeys heaven and is favoured by
Providence, commands that he be honoured and loved wherever the
heavens overhang and the earth upbears. The Imperial command is
universal; even as far as the bounds of ocean where the sun rises,
there are none who do not obey it. In ancient times our Imperial
ancestors bestowed their favours on many lands: the Tortoise Knots
and the Dragon Writing were sent to the limits of far Japan; the pure
alabaster and the great-seal character were granted to the monarchs
of the submissive country. Thereafter came billowy times when
communications were interrupted, but an auspicious opportunity has
now arrived when it has pleased us again to address you. You,
Toyotomi Taira Hideyoshi, having established an Island kingdom and
knowing the reverence due to the Central Land, sent to the west an
envoy, and with gladness and affection offered your allegiance. On
the north you knocked at the barrier of ten thousand li, and
earnestly requested to be admitted within our dominions. Your mind is
already confirmed in reverent submissiveness. How can we grudge our
favour to so great meekness? We do, therefore, specially invest you
with the dignity of "King of Japan," and to that intent issue this
our commission. Treasure it carefully. As a mark of our special
favour towards you, we send you over the sea a robe and crown
contained in a costly case, so that you may follow our ancient custom
as respects dress. Faithfully defend the frontier of our empire; let
it be your study to act worthily of your position as our minister;
practice moderation and self-restraint; cherish gratitude for the
Imperial favour so bountifully bestowed upon you; change not your
fidelity; be humbly guided by our admonitions; continue always to
follow our instructions.*

*Quoted by W. Dening in A New Life of Hideyoshi.

Hideyoshi had already donned the robe and crown mentioned in the
above despatch, his belief being that they represented his
investiture as sovereign of Ming. On learning the truth, he tore off
the insignia and flung them on the ground in a fit of ungovernable
wrath at the arrogance of the Chinese Emperor's tone. It had never
been distinctly explained how this extraordinary misunderstanding
arose, but the most credible solution of the problem is that Naito,
baron of Tamba, who had proceeded to Peking for the purpose of
negotiating peace, was so overawed by the majesty and magnificence of
the Chinese Court that, instead of demanding Hideyoshi's investiture
as monarch of China, he stated that nothing was needed except China's
formal acknowledgement of the kwampaku's real rank. Hideyoshi, in his
natural anger, ordered the Chinese ambassadors to be dismissed
without any written answer and without any of the gifts usual on such
occasions according to the diplomatic custom of the Orient.

He was, however, induced not to prosecute his quarrel with the Middle
Kingdom, and he turned his anger entirely against Korea. Accordingly,
on March 19, 1597, nine fresh corps were mobilized for oversea
service, and these being thrown into Korea, brought the Japanese
forces in that country to a total of 141,000 men. But the campaign
was not at first resumed with activity proportionate to this great
army. The Japanese commanders seem to have waited for some practical
assurances that the command of the sea would not be again wrested
from them; a natural precaution seeing that, after five years' war,
Korea herself was no longer in a position to make any contributions
to the commissariat of the invaders. It is a very interesting fact
that, on this occasion, the Japanese victories at sea were as signal
as their defeats had been in 1592. The Korean navy comprised the same
vessels which were supposed to have proved so formidable five years
previously, but the Japanese naval architects had risen to the level
of the occasion, and the Korean fleet was well-nigh annihilated.

Meanwhile, the Chinese had sent a powerful army to southern Korea,
and against these fresh forces the Japanese attacks were directed.
Everywhere the invaders were victorious, and very soon the three
southern provinces of the peninsula had been captured. No actual
reverse was met with throughout, but an indecisive victory near
Chiksan, in the north of the metropolitan province, rendered it
impossible for the Japanese to establish themselves in Seoul before
the advent of winter, and they therefore judged it advisable to
retire to their seaboard chain of entrenched camps. Early in 1598, a
fresh army of forty thousand men reached Seoul from China, and for a
moment the situation seemed to threaten disaster for the Japanese.
Their strategy and desperate valour proved invincible, however, and
the Kagoshima samurai won, on October 30, 1598, a victory so signal
that the ears and noses of thirty-seven thousand Chinese heads were
sent to Japan and buried under a tumulus near the temple of Daibutsu
in Kyoto, where this terrible record, called Mimizuka (Mound of
Ears), may be seen to-day.

Just about this time, intelligence of the death of Hideyoshi reached
the Japanese commanders in Korea, and immediately an armistice was
arranged. The withdrawal of the invading forces followed, not without
some serious difficulties, and thus the six years' campaign
terminated without any direct results except an immense loss of life
and treasure and the reduction of the Korean peninsula to a state of
desolation. It has been repeatedly pleaded for the wholly
unprogressive state into which Korea thenceforth fell. But to
conclude that a nation could be reduced by a six-years' war to three
centuries of hopelessness and helplessness is to credit that nation
with a very small measure of resilient capacity.

INDIRECT RESULTS

The war was not altogether without indirect results of some value to
Japan. Among these may be cited the fact that, a few decades later,
when the Tsing dynasty destroyed the Ming in China, subjugated Korea,
and assumed a position analogous to that previously held by the Yuan,
no attempt was made to defy Japan. The memory of her soldiers'
achievements on the Korean battle-fields sufficed to protect her
against foreign aggression. Another material result was that, in
compliance with Hideyoshi's orders, the returning Japanese generals
brought back many Korean art-artisans who contributed largely to the
development of the ceramic industry.



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