Taira no Yoshikane (平良兼)

TAIRA no Yoshikane was a warlord who lived during the mid-Heian period. He was the second son of TAIRA no Takamochi.


On June 18, 889, he was given the family name of Taira and demoted from nobility to subject on orders of Emperor Uda. Since his father Takamochi was appointed as Kazusa no kuni no suke (the Assistant governor of Kazusa Province) in 898, he went down to Kazusa Province with his father, where they were based in a house inside the Musha District. Even after his father's term as Kazusa no kuni no suke expired, he did not return to Kyoto but succeeded to Kazusa no kuni no suke after his father, thereby extending power in Kazusa and Shimosa Provinces. The foundation of the Kanmu-Heishi (Taira clan) of the Prince Takamochi line was strengthened and its power expanded to other regions accordingly.

Yoshikane was on bad terms with his nephew and the son-in-law, TAIRA no Masakado, and stayed out of the conflict between Masakado and the son of his father-in-law MINAMOTO no Mamoru, in which his elder brother TAIRA no Kunika was killed. However, Yoshikane militarily intervened into the conflict only after Masakado defeated his uncle TAIRA no Yoshimasa, thereby acting as a leader in the conflict with Masakado. He criticized and persuaded his nephew TAIRA no Sadamori, who was taking a peaceful approach to Masakado who had killed Kunika (Sadamori's father), to get him on his side when going into battle in Shimotsuke Province. In June 936, with Yoshimasa and Sadamori, he battled against Masakado at the boundary of Shimotsuke Province. Although they outnumbered the enemy, they were defeated and returned to the provincial capital of Shimotsuke Province. Although Masakado surrounded the provincial capital, he lifted the siege and allowed Yoshikane to escape.

After that, Masakado was summoned to Kyoto because of a complaint made by MINAMOTO no Mamoru to be judged. In May 937, however, he was permitted after given amnesty by Emperor Suzaku on the celebration of his attainment of manhood, and he returned to his home in June. On September 18, 937, Yoshikane attacked Ikuha no mimaya, Masakado's territory, raising images of his paternal ancestors including 'Yoshimasa' (Masakado's father) and 'Prince Takamochi,' and defeated Masakado to make him flee this time, attacking and burning Ikuha no mimaya. Soon after that, Masakado regrouped the army to counterattack, but was defeated again. On this occasion, Yoshikane captured Masakado's wife and daughter (i.e., Yoshikane's daughter and granddaughter) and secretly took them back to Kazusa; the form of marriage in those days involved commuting relationships. However, his sons TAIRA no Kinmasa and TAIRA no Kintsura helped them vanish again on October 21, 937, so they returned to Masakado's place.

In the continued conflict with Masakado, on December 15, 937 after receiving the complaint from Masakado, the Imperial Court issued official documents to Musashi Province, Awa Province, Kazusa Province, Hitachi Province, Shimotsuke Province, and so on, ordering to pursue and capture Yoshikane and others. As a result, the stands of Masakado and Yoshikane in public were reversed, and Masakado gained an increase in power. Even with the official documents, however, the provincial governors hesitated to battle against the Taira family: in fact, as the substantial governors in the provinces that received the official documents were from the Taira family, the official documents did not have any effect. On January 22, 938, Yoshikane bought off HASETSUKABE no Koharumaru who was a crier serving Masakado, to get inside information about the camp in Iwai City and made a night attack, but he was anticipated and was counterattacked into a rout. Thereafter, Yoshikane lost his power and died of disease in June 939.