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The last was, of course, excluded from Kamatari's
calculations, and as between the first two he judged it wiser that
Prince Karu should have precedence in the succession, Prince Naka not
being old enough. The conspiracy that ensued presents no specially
remarkable feature. Kamatari and Prince Naka became acquainted
through an incident at the game of football, when the prince, having
accidently kicked off his shoe, Kamatari picked it up and restored it
to him on bended knee. The two men, in order to find secret
opportunities for maturing their plans, became fellow students of the
doctrines of Chow and Confucius under the priest Shoan, who had been
among the eight students that accompanied the Sui envoy on his return
to China in the year 608.

Intimate relations were cemented with a section of the Soga through
Kurayamada, whose daughter Prince Naka married, and trustworthy
followers having been attached to the prince, the conspirators
watched for an occasion. It was not easy to find one. The Soga
mansion, on the eastern slope of Mount Unebi, was a species of
fortress, surrounded by a moat and provided with an armoury having
ample supply of bows and arrows. Emishi, the o-omi, always had a
guard of fifty soldiers when he went abroad, and Iruka, his son, wore
a sword "day and night." Nothing offered except to convert the palace
itself into a place of execution. On the twelfth day of the sixth
month, 645, the Empress held a Court in the great hall of audience to
receive memorials and tribute from the three kingdoms of Korea. All
present, except her Majesty and Iruka, were privy to the plot. Iruka
having been beguiled into laying aside his sword, the reading of the
memorials was commenced by Kurayamada, and Prince Naka ordered the
twelve gates to be closed simultaneously. At that signal, two
swordsmen should have advanced and fallen upon Iruka; but they showed
themselves so timorous that Prince Naka himself had to lead them to
the attack. Iruka, severely wounded, struggled to the throne and
implored for succour and justice; but when her Majesty in terror
asked what was meant, Prince Naka charged Iruka with attempting to
usurp the sovereignty. The Empress, seeing that her own son led the
assassins, withdrew at once, and the work of slaughtering Iruka was
completed, his corpse being thrown into the court-yard, where it lay
covered with straw matting.

Prince Naka and Karaatari had not been so incautious as to take a
wide circle of persons into their confidence. But they were
immediately joined by practically all the nobility and high
officials, and the o-omi's troops having dispersed without striking a
blow, Emishi and his people were all executed. The Empress Kogyoku at
once abdicated in favour of her brother, Prince Kara, her son, Prince
Naka, being nominated Prince Imperial. Her Majesty had worn the
purple for only three years. All this was in accord with Kamatari's
carefully devised plans. They were epoch making.

RELATIONS WITH KOREA DURING THE SEVEN REIGNS FROM KIMMEI TO KOGYOKU
(A.D. 540-645)

The story of Japan's relations with Korea throughout the period of
over a century, from the accession of Kimmei (540) to the abdication
of Kogyoku (645), is a series of monotonously similar chapters, the
result for Japan being that she finally lost her position at Mimana.
There was almost perpetual fighting between the petty kingdoms which
struggled for mastery in the peninsula, and Kudara, always nominally
friendly to Japan, never hesitated to seek the latter's assistance
against Shiragi and Koma. To these appeals the Yamato Court lent a
not-unready ear, partly because they pleased the nation's vanity, but
mainly because Kudara craftily suggested danger to Mimana unless
Japan asserted herself with arms. But when it came to actually
rendering material aid, Japan did nothing commensurate with her
gracious demeanour. She seems to have been getting weary of expensive
interference, and possibly it may also have occurred to her that no
very profound sympathy was merited by a sovereign who, like the King
of Kudara, preferred to rely on armed aid from abroad rather than
risk the loss of his principality to his own countrymen.

At all events, in answer to often iterated entreaties from Kudara,
the Yamato Court did not make any practical response until the year
551, when it sent five thousand koku of barley-seed (?), followed,
two years later, by two horses, two ships, fifty bows with arrows,
and--a promise. Kudara was then ruled by a very enterprising prince
(Yo-chang). Resolving to strike separately at his enemies, Koma and
Shiragi, he threw himself with all his forces against Koma and gained
a signal victory (553). Then, at length, Japan was induced to assist.
An omi was despatched (554) to the peninsula with a thousand
soldiers, as many horses and forty ships. Shiragi became at once the
objective of the united forces of Kudara and Japan. A disastrous
defeat resulted for the assailants. The Kudara army suffered almost
complete extermination, losing nearly thirty thousand men, and
history is silent as to the fate of the omi's contingent.
Nevertheless the fear of Japanese vengeance induced Shiragi to hold
its hand, and, in the year 561, an attempt was made twice to renew
friendly relations with the Yamato Court by means of tribute-bearing
envoys. Japan did not repel these overtures, but she treated the
envoy of the victorious Shiragi with less respect than that extended
to the envoy of the vanquished Kudara.

In the spring of the following year (562), Shiragi invaded Mimana,
destroyed the Japanese station there and overran the whole region
(ten provinces). No warning had reached Japan. She was taken entirely
unawares, and she regarded it as an act of treachery on Shiragi's
part to have transformed itself suddenly from a tribute-bearing
friend into an active enemy. Strangely enough, the King of Shiragi
does not appear to have considered that his act precluded a
continuance of friendly relations with the Yamato Court. Six months
after his invasion of Mimana he renewed the despatch of envoys to
Japan, and it was not until their arrival in Yamato that they learned
Japan's mood. Much to the credit of the Yamato Court, it did not
wreak vengeance on these untimely envoys, but immediately afterwards
an armed expedition was despatched to call Shiragi to account. The
forces were divided into two corps, one being ordered to march under
Ki no Omaro northwest from Mimana and effect a junction with Kudara;
the other, under Kawabe no Nie, was to move eastward against Shiragi.
This scheme became known to the Shiragi generals owing to the seizure
of a despatch intended for Kudara. They attempted to intercept
Omaro's corps, but were signally defeated.

The movement under Kawabe no Nie fared differently. Japanese annals
attempt to palliate his discomfiture by a story about the abuse of a
flag of truce, but the fact seems to have been that Kawabe no Nie was
an incompetent and pusillanimous captain. He and his men were all
killed or taken prisoners, the only redeeming feature being the
intrepidity of a Japanese officer, Tsugi no Ikina, who, with his wife
and son, endured to be tortured and killed rather than utter an
insult against their country.

It is difficult to interpret the sequence of events after this
catastrophe. Japan immediately despatched a strong army--from thirty
to forty thousand men--but instead of directing it against Shiragi,
sent it to the attack of Koma, under advice of the King of Kudara.
Possibly the idea may have been to crush Koma, and having thus
isolated Shiragi, to deal with the latter subsequently. If so, the
plan never matured. Koma, indeed, suffered a signal defeat at the
hands of the Japanese, Satehiko, muraji of the Otomo, but Shiragi
remained unmolested, and nothing accrued to Japan except some
attractive spoils--curtains of seven-fold woof, an iron house, two
suits of armour, two gold-mounted swords, three copper belts with
chasings, two variously coloured flags, and two beautiful women. Even
as to the ultimate movements of Satehiko and his army the annals are
silent.

Things remained thus for nine years. Tribute-bearing envoys arrived
at intervals from Koma, but with Shiragi there was no communication.
At last, in 571, an official was sent to demand from Shiragi an
explanation of the reasons for the destruction of Mimana. The
intention may have been to follow up this formality with the
despatch of an effective force, but within a month the Emperor
Kimmei died. On his death-bed he is said to have taken the Prince
Imperial--Bidatsu--by the hand and said: "That which comes after
devolves on thee. Thou must make war on Shiragi and establish Mimana
as a feudal dependency, renewing a relationship like that of husband
and wife, just as it was in former days. If this be done, in my grave
I shall rest content."

Twelve years passed before Bidatsu took any step to comply with this
dying injunction. During that long interval there were repeated
envoys from Koma, now a comparatively feeble principality, and
Shiragi made three unsuccessful overtures to renew amicable
relations. At length, in 583, the Emperor announced his intention of
carrying out the last testament of his predecessor. To that end his
Majesty desired to consult with a Japanese, Nichira, who had served
for many years at the Kudara Court and was thoroughly familiar with
the conditions existing in Korea. Nichira came to Japan, but the
annals indicate that his counsels were directed wholly against
Kudara, which was ostensibly on the friendliest terms with Japan, and
not at all against Shiragi, whose punishment was alone in question.
Besides, instead of advising an appeal to arms, he urged the
necessity of developing Japan's material resources, so that her
neighbours might learn to count her formidable and her people might
acquire ardour in her cause. Whether the wisdom of this advice
appealed to Bidatsu, or whether the disputes consequent upon the
introduction of Buddhism paralyzed his capacity for oversea
enterprise, he made no further attempt to resolve the Korean problem.

In the year 591, the ill-fated Emperor Sushun conceived the idea of
sending a large army to re-establish his country's prestige in the
peninsula, but his own assassination intervened, and for the space of
nine years the subject was not publicly revived.



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