The Toyotomi Government (豊臣政権)

The Toyotomi government was a Japanese government that ruled the country from 1590 (in fact, 1585) to 1603. It is also called the Toyotomi-clan government.

Establishment of the government

On June 2, 1582, Nobunaga ODA was killed by Mitsuhide AKECHI (the Honnoji Incident). At that time, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, a vassal of Nobunaga's, who was in Bicchu (the western part of Okayama Prefecture) as a commander in chief of the forces coming from around the Chugoku region, immediately made a peace treaty with Terumoto MORI, lead his army back east and killed Mitsuhide AKECHI (the Battle of Yamazaki). With this great achievement, Hideyoshi's forcefulness of speech overpowered Nobunaga's other vassals. At the Kiyosu conference, Hideyoshi decided to elect Hidenobu ODA (the eldest legitimate son of Nobutada ODA) as the successor to Nobunaga, over Nobutaka ODA (Nobunaga's third son) who was recommended by Katsuie SHIBATA.

In the following year, Hideyoshi killed Katsuie SHIBATA and Nobutaka ODA, the vanguards of the anti-Hideyoshi group at the Battle of Shizugatake and made Kazumasu TAKIGAWA surrender. After having old vassals of the Oda clan, including Toshiie MAEDA and Nagachika KANAMORI work under him, Hideyoshi made himself the actual successor to Nobunaga.

Nobukatsu ODA, Nobunaga's second son, who was discontent with this, raised an anti-Hideyoshi army in 1584 with Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who had been an ally of Nobunaga's. Although Hideoyoshi's military force overpowered Ieyasu's, Hideyoshi was defeated locally, at the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute, because Ieyasu was a superb tactician. Afterward, however, Hideyoshi's tremendous force bore upon Nobukatsu, who made a peace treaty all by himself without counsel from Ieyasu. Due to this treaty, Ieyasu no longer had any legitimate reason to fight against Hideyoshi and accepted a peace treaty.

In 1585, Hideyoshi attacked and captured several forces in Kii Province (attack on Kishu) and Motochika CHOSOKABE in the Shikoku region (subjugation of Shikoku); they had threatened Hideyoshi behind his back over the last two years. On July that year, Hideyoshi was nominated to be the Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) after 'kanpaku soron' (disagreement over Kanpaku position) and in the following year, the family name, 'the Toyotomi clan' was given to him. This meant that the imperial court admitted that Hideyoshi was the most powerful person in Japan and that the court delegated him the authority to rule Japan. In short, the Toyotomi government was in fact established at that point.

The unification of the whole country

In 1586, Hideyoshi sent his real mother, Omandokoro (the mother of a Kanpaku), to Ieyasu as a hostage. This finally made Ieyasu serve Hideyoshi. In addition, Kagekatsu UESUGI in Echigo Province, Terumoto MORI in Aki Province and others pledged allegiance to Hideyoshi. In 1587, Hideyoshi attacked and captured Yoshihisa SHIMAZU, who was going to control Kyushu, by condemning him for having broken 'Ou Sobujirei' (peace edict for Ou region) (the subjugation of Kyushu), which meant the western part of Japan was completely under Hideyoshi's control.

In 1590, Hideyoshi, with his tremendous military force of 230,000 soldiers, attacked and captured Ujimasa HOJO and his son, Ujinao, who had broken 'Ou Sobujirei' (Attack of Odawara), and Masamune DATE, Yoshiaki MOGAMI and others in Tohoku (the northeast) region pledged allegiance to Hideyoshi (Oshu Shioki (approach to punish the powerful warriors in the area of Oshu, to prevent them from strengthening their power)); and by this the whole country was unified under the Toyotomi government. At that time, the Toyotomi government was established as the only government that could give orders to any place in Japan.

Kunohe-masazane-no-ran (the Rebellion of Masazane KUNOHE), which occurred in 1591, proved Hideyoshi's unification. Since the Nanbu clan could not subdue Masazane, Hideyoshi sent a military force of 60,000 soldiers, with Ujisato GAMO and Mitsunari ISHIDA and others as their leaders, to the remote rural areas in Oshu (Northern Honshu, the region encompassing the Mutsu and Dewa provinces). The Muromachi Bakufu of the post-eighth shogun, Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, could not have attained such a thing, which indicated that Hideyoshi's unification of Japan was fully established at that point.

The Bunroku War

In 1592 (the first year in the Bunroku era), Hideyoshi, who had unified the nation, ordered 'daimyo' (feudal lords) all over the country to dispatch troops to the Joseon Dynasty (Korea) in order to conquer Ming (the Bunroku War). The Korean regular force, which had never experienced a full-scale war except troubles with 'wako' (Japanese pirates) or the Joshin tribe, was overwhelmed and completely defeated by the Japanese military force, which was equipped with a large amount of guns after the Sengoku period (period of warring states). With the cooperation of the Korean people, the Japanese forces conquered most parts of Korea by conquering the capital, Seoul Special City, and Pyongyang.

Yangban', traditional ruling class or nobles of dynastic Korea during the Joseon Dynasty, organized Korean people at various places, formed a volunteer army and started fighting against the Japanese forces. At sea, the Japanese force was defeated by the Korean Navy led by Yi Sun-sin. So, the Japanese force decided to prepare for the next year by drawing down its battle line and digging in.

In 1593, Ming gave its full support to Korea and went on the offensive. The Ming-Korean army occupied Pyongyang and came close to Hanseong, but the Japanese forces defeated them at the Battle of Hekitenkai (ByeogJe Gwan). Afterward, the battle drew to a stalemate as both sides suffered from logistical problems; the Japanese forces ran out of provisions while the Ming lost hundreds of thousands of horses due to starvation, which led to the discussion of a peace treaty and then to a truce agreement.

Hidetsugu Incident

In 1593, Hideyori TOYOTOMI, Hideyoshi's biological child was born. Hideyoshi, who had given up having his own biological child become his successor, designated his adopted son, Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI (Hideyoshi's nephew) to be his successor, and executed Hidetsugu and his family on suspicion of a rebellion in 1595. Hidetsugu is said to have been executed so that Hideyoshi could make Hideyori his successor.

Keicho Campaign and Hideyoshi's death

The peace treaty with Ming, which Mitsunari ISHIDA, Yukinaga KONISHI and others promoted, broke down, and in 1597 (the second year of the Keicho era), the second dispatch of troops to Korea was conducted (the Bunroku-Keicho War/ Keicho War). According to Asanoke monjo (the records of the Asano family), the purpose of the second dispatch was to punish the red country (Jeolla Province) completely, and then conquer the blue country (Chungcheong Province) and other areas. Having wiped out the Korean navy at The naval Battle of Chilcheollyang, the Japanese forces attacked and conquered the cities of Chonju of Jeolla Province, fought against the Ming force at Shokusan (the Battle of Shokusan: both forces recorded they had won.), and also attacked Chikusan, Anjo-city of Gyeonggi Province (Eight Provinces of Korea). Having conquered Jeolla Province, Chungcheong Province and advanced into Gyeonggi Province within about two months, the Japanese forces returned to the southern shore of the Korean Peninsula before winter and started the establishment of new castles (Japanese castles) in various places. When Urusan-jo Castle, at the east most edge of Korea, was under construction, the Japanese forces were attacked by the Ming-Korean forces from the end of 1597 to the beginning of 1598; the Japanese fought the enemy off (the first Battle of Ulsan).

Despite the Ming-Korean forces waging all-out war and attacking Junten-jo, Shisen-jo and Urusan-jo Castles, which had been established by the Japanese forces, from the beginning of October to the end of October in 1598, the Japanese forces fought them off. Yoshihiro SHIMAZU devastated the Ming-Korean force at Shisen-jo Castle (the Battle of Sacheon).

Although the Japanese forces fought off the all-out attack from the Ming-Korean forces, Hideyoshi had already died on September 18th (died at the age of 62). The order to return to Japan was issued in November. On their way back to Japan, despite the Japanese forces being hindered by the Ming-Korean navy at the Battle of Noryang, all returned to Japan by the end of December.

Collapse of the Government

After Hideyoshi's death, Hideyori, his first son, succeeded the position of head of the Toyotomi clan. However, since Hideyori was only six years old, the conflict between the Budan-ha (a political faction willing to resort to military means to achieve its aims) consisting of Kiyomasa KATO, Masanori FUKUSHIMA and others, and the Bunchi-ha (a civilian party) consisting of Mitsunari ISHIDA, Yukinaga KONISHI, and others, which had started during Hideyoshi's last years, came to a head and the TOYOTOMI vassals were split off. In addition, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA aimed to be 'tenkabito' (a person becoming the ruler of the country) and entered an unauthorized marriage with Masamune DATE; thus, showing signs of the TOYOTOMI government's decline.

In 1599, Toshiie MAEDA, who managed to support the government as Hideyori's guardian, passed away. This allowed Ieyasu to gain prominence among other feudal lords, and Ieyasu gradually came to hold the power to control the nation. On the other hand, Mitsunari ISHIDA, together with Kagekatsu UESUGI, Terumoto MORI, Hideie UKITA and others, tried to fight against Ieyasu in order to protect the Toyotomi government. However, at the Battle of Sekigahara in September, in 1600, the Toyotomi-side (the western army) including Mitsunari was defeated, and the main leaders including Mitsunari were executed or punished by being deprived of their domain.

The post-war reorganization degraded the Toyotomi clan down to one feudal lord who owned three Provinces, the Settsu, Kawachi and Izumi provinces, with 650,000 koku (approximately 117 million liters of crop yield).
(Which meant Hideyoshi's policy of 'kurairechi' (land directly controlled by the Toyotomi clan) was unsuccessful in various ways.)
When Ieyasu changed various feudal lords' domains in the post-war reorganization, those 'kurairechi' automatically disappeared. Ieyasu Tokugawa's establishing the Edo Bakufu (Edo shogunate) as Seiitaishogun (commander-in-chief of the expeditionary force against the barbarians, great, unifying leader) in 1603 put an end to the Toyotomi government.

Afterward, as the Toyotomi clan would not obey the Tokugawa clan and attempted to be independent, they were defeated by Ieyasu in Osaka no Jin (The Siege of Osaka), which started in 1614.

The characteristics of the Toyotomi government

Like the former government, the Oda government, the Toyotomi government was organized so that Hideyoshi, the monarch, held all of the power by himself. During the reign of Hideyoshi, he established a centralized administrative framework that controlled lands and people all over the country by conducting Taiko kenchi (Hideyoshi Toyotomi's nationwide land survey), giving commands to collect swords, and so forth. Although there were several 'Daidaimyo' (a feudal lord given a greater stipend) including the Mori, the Shimazu, the Date, the Tokugawa, and the Uesugi clans, who owned provinces almost one million-koku in size, Hideyoshi, while he was alive, didn't give them any authority to control the administration but instead had the feudal lords who were reared from an early age, such as the Ishida and the Otani clans, govern the country by making them live around the Kinki region and giving them a small stipend. Hideyoshi also established 'kurairechi' (the land directly controlled by the government) in various places and formed a system of remote control. While he forbid Christianity, which was symbolized by 'Bateren Tsuihorei' (an edict expelling the European missionaries), he earnestly promoted commerce with Europe.

It is said that after Hideyoshi's failure to accomplish his desire to become 'Seii Taishogun', he introduced a new system, 'the Kanpaku system by the samurai family' instead of the 'Bakufu' system; the status of 'Kanpaku' was given to him through accidental events, and he tried to change the status to the Toyotomi-clan hereditary system (by excluding five Fujiwara Gosekke (five top Fujiwara families whose members were eligible for the positions of Sessho and Kanpaku)). The transfer of 'Kanpaku' to Hidetsugu Toyotomi did not mean Hideyoshi's retirement but the declaration of the Toyotomi-clan's heritage of that position, and Hideyoshi maintained the real power.
(Ironically, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA transferred the position of 'Seii taishogun' to his son, Hidetada TOKUGAWA and was in charge of politics as 'Ogosho' (a leading figure) in order to show that the Tokugawa clan would inherit the position of 'Seii taishogun' and he would not return the political administration to Hideyori, Hideyoshi's bereaved son.)

In regards to diplomatic policy, Hideyoshi insisted 'Sinocentrism' in which Japan would be the center instead of Ming and based on military force, applied a hard-line policy that required Luzon, Ryukyukoku, Takasagun (the country believed to exist in Taiwan in those days), Joseon Dynasty and others to yield allegiance and bring tributes to Japan. It was the Joseon Dynasty that Hideyoshi strongly required 'submission' from and 'the guide for conquest of the Ming' (Seimin kyodo). However, the Joseon Dynasty had been a tributary nation to Ming since its establishment, and it would not change its diplomatic policies. The So clan in Tsushima, who negotiated between Hideyoshi and the Joseon Dynasty, pursuing a peaceful settlement, required the Joseon Dynasty to send 'celebratory delegates' for the unification of Japan, instead of 'tributary delegates,' which Hideyoshi had required. The Joseon Dynasty sent their delegates partly because they wanted to find out what was going on in Japan (searching delegates). Although the Joseon Dynasty officially sent 'celebratory delegates,' their real intention was to learn about Japan's current situation, and they did not intend to pay 'tributes' or yield allegiance to Hideyoshi. However, as the So clan introduced these Korean delegates as 'tributary delegates' to Hideyoshi, he believed that the Joseon Dynasty had sent 'tributary delegates' to yield allegiance to him as he had demanded, and ordered them again to be the guide for conquest of the Ming (Seimin kyodo). However, the Joseon Dynasty, which had been a tributary nation to Ming, would not follow his order. Hideyoshi considered this as the Korean's breaking the pledge of 'submission'. Thus, Hideyoshi decided to attack Korea. The invasion of the Asian continent and the dispatch of troops to Korea finished upon Hideyoshi's death.

Hideyoshi originally had few relatives, and as Hidenaga TOYOTOMI, Tsurumatsu TOYOTOMI, Omandokoro, Asahihime (Hideyoshi's younger sister and Ieyasu's lawful wife) and others passed away one after another, it caused heavy damage to the Toyotomi government. Despite this, Hideyoshi purged Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI and his family during the Bunroku period, which made the decline of the Toyotomi clan conclusive.

Hideyoshi also divided his vassals trained from their boyhood into Budan-ha and Bunchi-ha, and had them work hard. Although it can be said that it was typical of Hideyoshi's way of using people effectively, it resulted in the conflict between Budan-ha including Kiyomasa KATO and Bunchi-ha including Mitsunari ISHIDA after Hideyoshi's death.

In his later years, Hideyoshi forbade feudal lords to make marital relationships with each other without his permission in order to stabilize the Toyotomi government, to which his son, Hideyori, would succeed. In addition, Hideyoshi established the supreme organization of the Toyotomi government by appointing the following influential feudal lords as 'Gotairo' (Council of Five Elders): Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, Toshiie MAEDA, Terumoto MORI, Hideie UKITA, and Takakage KOBAYAKAWA (Kagekatsu UESUGI after Takakage's death in 1597).
This was a so-called cabinet system and various matters were decided by the agreement of the 'Gotairo.'
Clerical work, such as land survey, was conducted by so-called Gobugyo (five major magistrates), Hideyoshi's vassals trained from their boyhood: Mitsunari ISHIDA, Nagamasa ASANO, Geni MAEDA, Nagamori MASHITA and Masaie NAGATSUKA.
Yoshiharu HORIO, Kazuuji NAKAMURA and Chikamasa IKOMA worked as 'Sanchuro' (arbitration office) in order to control and supervise 'Gotairo' and 'Gobugyo.'

However, those systems, Gotairo, Sanchuro and Gobugyo, are said to have not developed enough as political structures. In fact, Ieyasu Tokugawa, who became outstandingly influential after Hideyoshi's death, made marital relationships with several lords without the Toyotomi clan's permission. While it is said that Hideyoshi established that political structure partly because he wanted to contain Ieyasu, Hideyoshi's intentions seemed to have resulted in failure.
(However, the Toyotomi clan could control the Tokugawa clan while Toshiie Maeda was alive, because Toshiie could compete with Ieyasu: if Toshiie had not passed away only eight months after Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu might have had difficulty in gaining control of the government.)

The Toyotomi clan's territory (directly-controlled land) was 2,220,000 koku in total and was less than Ieyasu's territory in the Kanto region, which was 2,500,000 koku. However, as the Toyotomi clan owned the major gold and silver mines, they financially overpowered the Tokugawa clan. While Hideyoshi, after having given some of his territory to his greatest vassal, directly owned 2,220,000 koku-land, Ieyasu's 2,500,000 koku-territory included the lands given to his vassal, and Ieyasu's directly-controlled land was one million koku-territory; therefore, Hideyoshi's territory was in fact much bigger than Ieyasu's. Yet, the fact remained that Ieyasu continued to be very influential even in the Toyotomi government. Some feudal lords were also influential even though they were less influential than Ieyasu. As mentioned above, the Toyotomi government functioned, keeping a fragile balance, only when it depended upon influential feudal lords under the control of Hideyoshi, a very powerful dictator. Therefore, after Hideyoshi's death, the Toyotomi government's inconsistencies and weak points came to the surface and it was taken over by the Tokugawa clan within a few years.

The Organization of the Toyotomi Government

Although the Toyotomi Government had 'bugho', magistrates as government bureaucrats who were in charge of national politics from its beginning, they didn't have any systematic laws until the end of the government. In 1595, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI accused Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI of raising a rebellion and made Hidetsugu commit suicide by disembowelment and punished Hidetsugu's vassals. In the same year, due to the power vacuum and for the assistant of Hideyori TOYOTOMI, a very young lord, 'On Okite' (five rules and regulations) and 'On Okite Tsuika' (nine supplements to the rules and regulations) were issued under the 'rensho' (assistant to regents) of 'Gotairo' and the political function of the government was established. Gotairo' and 'Sanchuro' were established as well as 'Gobugyo', who were in charge of public administration, justice, financial administration, civil engineering work and religion, and 'Juhinshu' (Ten influential families), who were in charge of the acceptance of lawsuits and hearing of opinions, were established. When Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI passed away in 1598, those systems were to support the Toyotomi government; however, the laws did not always function. Most of the provisions written in 'On Okite' and 'On Okite Tsuika' were adopted into 'Buke shohatto' (Laws for the Military Houses) issued by the 'Edo bakufu' (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

In local regions, the Toyotomi government established a 'Daimyo chigyo system' (system of giving fiefs to a Daimyo); the government admitted each feudal lord's sovereignty by issuing 'shuinjo' (a vermillion seal letter). While 'shugo daimyo' (shugo, which were Japanese provincial military governors, that became daimyo, which were Japanese feudal lords) during the Muromachi period reigned over a whole region or province, Hideyoshi established the land directly controlled by Taiko Hideyoshi and made the area that each feudal lord could reign 'goson' (a self-governing village). Each feudal lord had several duties including the payment of rice to Hideyoshi's directly-controlled land near their territory. The central administration was able to take part in the rural area's financial and domestic administrations through Hideyoshi's directly-controlled land, which indicated the local regions carried a lot of weight. Hideyoshi placed 'fudai daimyo' (a daimyo in hereditary vassalage to the Toyotomi clan) near Osaka, while placing 'tozama daimyo' (nonhereditary feudal lord) in remote regions such as shifting Ieyasu TOKUGAWA to the Kanto region. Hideyoshi tried to prevent those in charge of government practices from having military forces; for example, Hideyoshi gave 200,000 koku to the 'bugyoshu' (group of magistrates), including Mitsunari ISHIDA, and didn't allow 'tozama' to participate in government affairs.

The following three things were the financial basis of the Toyotomi government. First, by gaining approximately two million koku from the land directly controlled by Taiko Hideyoshi; second, by gaining profits of gold and silver from gold and silver mines, which were part of Hideyoshi's directly controlled territories (Sado Gold Mine of Sado Province and Iwami Silver Mine of Iwami Province and Ikuno Silver Mine of Tajima Province) (Hideyoshi issued the new coins, 'Tensho-Oban' and 'Tensho Tsuho' after a long interval since 'Kocho-Junisen' (twelve coins casted in Japan) had been issued in the Heian period; third, gaining profits by directly controlling cities where commerce had developed (Osaka, Sakai, Kyoto, Fushimi and Nagasaki).