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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:07 am    Post subject: Imjin War Discussion: Warm-Up Questions Reply with quote
Our Imjin War discussion has now officially launched! I'd like to welcome everybody to this discussion. But before we jump into the details of the history of the conflict, it may be a good idea to briefly discuss the background situation in each of the major combatant countries. So without further ado, here we go! These questions are open to all and even those of you who said you will be just mere spectators in this discussion are free to give these a try! Very Happy

1. What was the state of affairs in Japan (militarily, politically and economically) on the eve of the Imjin War?

2. What was the state of affairs in Korea (militarily, politically and economically) on the eve of the Imjin War?

3. What was the state of affairs in China (militarily, politically and economically) on the eve of the Imjin War?
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I still have reading to do, but one thing has always struck me about this war. I apologize if this observation is overly simplistic.

1. Militarily and Politically, Japan appears to be in a state of flux and transition. Hideyoshi has just unified Japan, but I cannot imagine that things are as unified as they seem. Various daimyo could still mobilize sizeable forces of men and arms, as eventually happens later on Hideyoshi's death. While Hideyoshi may have ambitions of ruling China, there is another affect of channeling the martial aggression of internal forces against an external target, thereby minimizing the liklihood of someone at home trying to stir up touble.

Something I'd like to know, and I don't know if we have enough data yet (and I still have a lot of reading to do): Where lie the loyalty of the troops that get sent to Korea? Does Hideyoshi tend to send his most trusted daimyo and men, and keep those he's wary of close to him at home, or is it the other way around?

Just some early morning thoughts. As I said, I have more reading to do.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Koreans were in a bad state both politically and militarily. Politically, factional fighting (usually simplistically called 'Eastern' and 'Western' factions after the location of their leader's mansions in Seoul) at the expense of effective government was the order of the day. The leaders were much more concerned with maintaining their status rather than listening to their envoys and acting upon the threat of Japanese invasion (although limited efforts were made to build fortifications and some military appointments were made-some exceedingly poor, but one of them was Admiral Yi).
Militarily, the Koreans were exceedingly poorly prepared in almost every facet. Since the politicians running the show feared power struggles from within more than invasion from a foreign country, generals were kept in Seoul away from the troops they were supposed to be leading. This was a big factor in the early defeats suffered by the Korean army. Armies were maintained by conscription and due to lax recordkeeping and corruption (with people 'bribing' their way out of service), troop rosters were at nowhere near their stated levels. Military leadership positions were assigned by written examinations rather than demonstrated abilities. In the Confucian based and Sinocentric world of Korea, the military was also considered to be somewhat of a second class career, fit only for those who were unable to enter civil service. This contributed to military leadership that was largely unsuited to facing the seasoned generals and troops of Japan. Despite having had access to the Japanese arquebus, the Korean army still relied on the long bow as its primary ranged weapon. The Koreans did have a marked advantage over the Japanese in the field of naval warfare and field artillery (this superiority resulted mainly from their response to their major security problem-Chinese/Korean/Japanese pirate raids). Korean ships featured heavier guns and armor (in the form of heavier planking) than their Japanese counterparts, and as long as they kept their distance from the Japanese and avoided being boarded were virtually invulnerable. Unfortunately for Korea, in the early going the leadership of the navy proved to be every bit as poor as the army. And obviously, the Korean armed forces had nowhere near the battlefield experience of the Japanese forces, many of whom had been at war their entire lives.
All in all, Korea was about as ill-prepared for a Japanese assault as was possible.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Good posts, guys! Very Happy We are going to talk very shortly in detail about what may have fueled Hideyoshi's motives for launching the invasion as well as why Korea was so ill prepared for the invasion. We'll start discussing Hideyoshi's motives within a couple days so let's not go into the details quite yet.

At the beginning of the second week of the discussion, we will dive into detail about Korea's status of forces and why the Koreans weren't ready. A lot of this had to do with the schism in government politics and conflicting assessments of Japan's intentions and capabilities.

Keep the posts coming! Again, a very good start, and by the way, does anyone want to tackle China? If anyone has the Hawley's Imjin War, there is an excellent overview in the beginning of the book.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm reading Hawley at the moment so I'll paraphrase what he says about China.

The Ming Dynasty was in decline, though no one believed it or mentioned it within the Middle Kingdom. This was after all the centre of the earth if not the universe, the nation superior to all others, which was extremely "huge and rich and awesome and commanded the nominal allegiance of many far-flung lands." But internal problems made it much weaker than it seemed.

1. Lack of money and inability to raise and collect taxes.
2. Factional strife within government
3. Corruption among officials
4. Decreasing military strength. Much smaller actual numbers in the armed forces than were recorded. Discipline terrible, leadership weak (due to the widespread influence of Neo-Confucianism most officials including commanders put more faith in moral and ethical character than in learning military tactics and leadership.)
5. A series of crises from 1570s to 1610s: Pirate raids in the southeast, Mongol raids in the North, mutiny on the Manchurian frontier, clashes on the Burmese border, famine in the West.
6. The Wanli Emperor, after a promising start, had some sort of personality breakdown, shirking royal responsibilities and initiating a succession crisis which occupied the Chinese court and civil service throughout the 1590s
7. Hideyoshi was not the only one who was aware of these weaknesses. Spain was also eyeing China.

Japan (that distant nation of "dwarfs") was hardly noticed in Beijing. It was a tributary state of long-standing, but not an important one. The history of tribute missions dated back to the early 7th century, but no Japanese mission had arrived since 1549. Hawley writes: "The Japanese seemed to be caught up in some sort of internal struggle...when they eventually managed to put their house in order they would undoubtedly return to their proper place in the Chinese-centered world and resume the noble task of trying to emulate Sino-civilization.
In the meantime they hardly bore thinking about."

Laughing I like Hawley's cliffhanger chapter endings. The next chapter but one ends "But was Little China to be trusted?" The other thing that comes across clearly is the lack of communication between Korea and China, and the lack of trust too. For a large part of the early months of the war China thought Korea must be in cahoots with the japanese - the only explanation for their incredible dash up the peninsula.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
7. Hideyoshi was not the only one who was aware of these weaknesses. Spain was also eyeing China.


Interesting.

I wonder if the japaneses were aware of this.
If I'm correct, Hideyoshi sent emissaries to ask
submission to Philippines too in the same period
as to Korea.

Is there any chance he was afraid about spaniards
trying to obtain control of the peninsula after
having failed to control Japan and made an attempt
to came first ?
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Carlo,

Good question, but I don't want to elaborate too much on that now as I'm going to start a specific thread on Hideyoshi's invasion motives very shortly. Please feel free to re-address this issue then. Ok?

Heron,
Good post! Very Happy Does anybody else have something more to say about the general situation in China or about the other conflicts that were preoccupying Beijing on the eve of the Japanese invasion?
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
While I have the tme, I'd like to throw out some points regarding the national balance of power in Japan and the dispositions Hideyoshi had made, country-wide, prior to and following the Odawara Campaign. Although the discussion hasn't reached this point yet, I think these dispositions played an important role in his planning for Korea, in particular why he chose the forces he did. Not to jump the gun, but at some point I would like to make the case refuting, if not answering, the oft-posed question: why did Hideyoshi send his 'allies' into Korea and leave his potential enemies at home?

I apologize for the length of my ramblings-hopefully there will something of merit buried within the following mess somewhere.

Hideyoshi and the Great Houses of Japan, 1591
The unification of Japan had been militarily achieved by the beginning of 1591, with the complete submission of the length of the country to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. At this time, Hideyoshi’s thoughts turned towards the future of his house. Despite his immense personal power at this time, he was nonetheless subject to certain constraints. Firstly, a number of those lords who had accepted his authority were powerful in their own right and enjoyed solid and longstanding local support as well as impressive pedigrees. These included Tokugawa Ieyasu, lord of the Tokaido Coast area (Mikawa, Totomi, Kai, and Suruga), Mori Terumoto, who ruled the western chugoku, Uesugi Kagekatsu in Echigo, Date Masamune in northern Japan, and Shimazu Yoshihiro in southern Kyushu.

Although certain of these daimyo had allied with Hideyoshi during his march to power, all, save Date, had directly opposed him at some point (the Mori doing so while he was a commander for Oda Nobunaga.) Prior to his destruction of the Hojo house in 1590, Hideyoshi had adopted a policy of reconciliation towards those great houses he defeated, reducing their holdings but allowing them to retain their traditional seats of power (although, in the case of the Shimazu, he compelled the daimyo, Yoshihisa, to retire in favor of the latter’s brother, Yoshihiro.) The fate of the Hojo was perhaps preordained by their strategic position and the vast size of their domain, which included the provinces of Izu, Sagami, Musashi, Kazusa, Shimosa, and part of Kozuke. Possibly their lack of pedigree also played a role, as they were sengoku-era upstarts, alone among the great houses thus cited not to have held some degree of power traditionally in their spheres of influence.) The elimination of the Hojo afforded Hideyoshi with the option of moving his most formidable potential rival, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu’s domain in central Japan was by 1589 well-developed and had grown to include Kai and part of Shinano Province. He had opposed Hideyoshi in the Komaki-Nagakute Campaign in 1584, an inconclusive affair that Hideyoshi, though numerically superior to Ieyasu, had not prosecuted with any real determination (how the pro-Tokugawa stance of the Hojo played into Hideyoshi’s thinking at this time is an interesting, if unrelated, question.)

In the course of the next six years, Ieyasu was not called upon to commit troops to any of Hideyoshi’s campaigns and was left to conduct his own affairs more or less as he saw fit, clearly playing the role of friendly ally and not tributary. He did commit some 30,000 troops in the campaign against the Hojo in 1590, after attempting unsuccessfully to convince the Hojo to come to terms with Hideyoshi.
Following the destruction of the Hojo, Ieyasu was compelled to accept the offer of the Kanto, in turn forfeiting all the lands he currently held. From Ieyasu’s perspective, the balance of power had now shifted to the point that he could no longer afford to openly challenge Hideyoshi. On the surface, the move would represent a sizable increase in the size and wealth of the Tokugawa domain.

This move was beneficial from Hideyoshi’s perspective for a number of reasons.

1. Hideyoshi no doubt held the reasonable expectation that Ieyasu would require quite some time to reorganize his domain after the move. He would be inheriting a domain that had known the Hojo’s rule for decades.


2. Ieyasu could be contained by the geography of the Kanto’s western limits. In Ieyasu’s place, Toyotomi stalwarts Yamaouchi, Ikeda, Nakamura and others were established. Should Ieyasu raise his standard against Hideyoshi, they could be counted on to block his movements through the Hakone Mountains. Meanwhile, the presence of Uesugi Kagekatsu in Echigo presented Ieyasu with a potential rival and a threat to his holdings should he attempt a march on Kyoto.


3. Given the confirmation of the Satomi in Awa, the Satake in Hitachi, and the Utsunomiya in Shimotsuke, Ieyasu’s domain was not quite as large as it seemed on paper (although the most fertile of the Kanto Provinces, particularly Suruga and Musashi, would be under Ieyasu’s control.)

Hideyoshi’s powerbase was in the center of the country, reflecting at least in part his embrace of the Imperial Court as his path to legitimacy. He was to construct a massive bastion at Osaka that would act as the lynchpin of his rule. He buffered this region around Kyoto with his trusted allies, men who in some cases had served him for decades. He placed counters to his enemies in Honshu:

The Maeda in Kaga and Noto blocked the Uesugi. Maeda Toshiie had been a close associate and comrade of Hideyoshi for many years, possibly since the time of the Battle of Okehazama in 1560.

Ukita Hideie, a one-time ward of Hideyoshi who owed his domain in Bizen to Hideyoshi’s support, counter-balanced the presence of the still-formidable Mori clan in Aki, Suo, and Nagano. Hideyoshi also worked to diminish the potential threat posed by Mori Terumoto by supporting a certain fragmenting of the Mori domain, which saw virtually autonomous branches splinter off in the form of the Kikkawa and Kobayakawa, the latter having been wooed by Hideyoshi since the days before Oda Nobunaga’s death in 1582.

Asano Nagamasa, another old Oda hand and friend to Hideyoshi, was given Kai, thus placing a trusted man in one of central Japan’s most strategic spots, over watching, as it did, the two primary routes of movement westward from the Kanto. Other trusted men were placed in Shinano.

On the island of Shikoku Hideyoshi established other allies to counter Chosokabe Motochika in Tosa, who was in any event to suffer internal turmoil stemming from the matter of the Chosokabe succession.

On Kyushu, Hideyoshi’s lynchpin was Kuroda Yoshitaka, a loyal and capable follower. These were joined by Kato Kiyomasa and Konishi Yukinaga. Additionally, Hideyoshi could reasonably expect the loyalty of Nabeshima Naoshige, a former Ryuzoji retainer whom Hideyoshi had elevated to control much of the former Ryuzoji domain. These could be expected to keep the Shimazu of southern Kyushu in check.

Hideyoshi had thus made these geographical arrangements to secure the capital provinces in the center.

When one commonly thinks of the Toyotomi powerbase, the western provinces come to mind, especially when considering the later Sekigahara Campaign. But, in truth, Hideyoshi was almost certainly too cynical to see the traditional western clans (Chosokabe, Mori, Shimazu, etc.,) in that light. Rather, these were men who had been forced by circumstances to accept his rule and whom he had allowed to remain in their traditional centers of power. Before 1590 he had not yet enjoyed the supreme power that would allow him to uproot powerful clans and move them elsewhere. The loss of the Mori’s support before the conquest of the Kanto, for example, might have constituted a serious setback. For all the sweeping changes he was to make socially with his sword hunt and country-wide land survey, Hideyoshi was more circumspect in dealing with the great houses under his sway. He had more leeway for potential moves in the north, eventually taking advantage of this to shift the Uesugi to the Aizu domain, moving him yet further from Kyoto while maintaining the spoiler position he held vis-à-vis Tokugawa and his ally, Date Masamune. The traditional lords of Aizu, the Ashina, had been conveniently destroyed by Date just as Hideyoshi was moving against the Hojo in 1590. In Uesugi’s place, the Hori-another Toyotomi ally-were established as the lords of Echigo.

Hideyoshi lost his only son in 1591 and would then suffer the death of his half-brother Hidenaga, another potential heir. Hideyoshi was at this time in his mid-50s. The succession thus devolved on his nephew through his sister, Toyotomi Hidetsugu, a man not well-known and considered lacking in both military talents and personal character. This situation boded ill for Hideyoshi’s dynastic hopes, already tenuous through his questionable legitimacy. Against his humble roots he had piled up military glory, court titles, and even a claim of divinity in his birth. But there could have been little question that the respect he was paid owed much to his military might. To say that he was the ‘Napoleon of Japan’ might not be as puerile as it sounds. Although his inner circle was largely composed of men who owed their wealth and lands to their association with him, for most of the country he almost certainly must have been considered an upstart of the first order. How he would hold together the power he had amassed through a process of divide and conquer now that peace had come was a question mark.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Damn, you people are good. I feel like I'm Brick McBurly on the first day of shooting and I haven't read the script ...
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Sweet post, Forest Tairo! I hope you keep us rocking with this type of insight. Head banging Good job! I don't think you shot your piece prematurely as you deftly guided us through the important aspect of the political situation in Japan on the eve of the Invasion of Korea. This is actually a very good lead-in to the upcoming topic of Hideyoshi's motives (I'll post that question later today) as well as week two’s discussion topic on Japan’s strategy and force composition/daimyo contributions. A lot of what you mentioned will come in handy for this discussion.

Takuan, that was a classic comment. ROTFLMAO
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I figured I'd add some more background to this thread-- I was reading a book on the plane yesterday called "Across the Perilous Sea: Japanese trade with China and Korea from the Seventh to Sixteenth Centuries." While it doesn't directly discuss the Imjin War (other than as a landmark event ending major trade between Korea and Japan), there are a few interesting things it mentions, some of which are mentioned above.

It discusses in some detail the tributary system of East Asia, especially the paradoxical relationship of China, Japan, and Korea--Japan being a tributary state of China while maintaining Korea as a tributary state of Japan. However, in spite of Western understanding of the idea of 'tribute', this was more appropriately a method of conducting trade between the nations and ensuring that the central governments themselves got a first cut at any trade goods.

It isn't surprising that Tsushima has long been a major piece of the puzzle in trade between Korea and Japan. It mentions the failed attack on Tsushima by King T'aejong of Korea (r. 1400-1419), which nonetheless led to So Sadamori officially becoming a vassal of Korea, granting the So family its special status in dealing with Korea. Among other things, they were able to accredit diplomatic missions, at least in the 15th century.

Then, in 1510, Tsushima sent troops to Korea to kill the chief commissioner of Pusan, since he had not paid to Tsushima the appropriate subsidies. They were pushed off, but I think it could be relevant that there was a recent 'invasion' of the mainland, even if not of the scale of the Imjin war. In 1512, an agreement was reached that, among other things, made the leader of Tsushima the sole authorized trade partner with Korea.

Another attack in 1544 by Japanese troops caused a breakdown in relations, but they were restored in 1547.

The book (written by Charlotte von Verschuer and translated by Kristen Lee Hunter) notes that trade in the 14th and 15th centuries increased drastically, with some 3,000 or more Japanese living in Korean port cities during parts of the 16th century (though many appear to have bee repatriated in the early 16th century). Trade during this era shows a great deal of imports from China, Korea, and the Ryukyu islands, but exports are chiefly to Korea.

I'm not sure that there is a lot of new stuff here, but I found it interesting. Sorry, should have better sources when I get home tomorrow.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
That's some interesting stuff. I have some friends who traveled to Tsushima and said it was really small and very sparsely populated. Interesting that such a small place could get away with making demands of korea, even going so far as attacking it, without any real repercussions.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
This is indeed quite interesting. Tsushima was truly in a pivotal role in Korean-Japanese relations. Actually, one of Turnbull's two brand new Osprey books that have links to the Imjin dicsussion, "Pirate of the Far East", goes into detail on the raids from Tsushima as well as the Korean attack on the island. When I get home this evening, I will also post some information on the armed revolt of Japanese nationals living in Korea and Tsushima's military response in support of it.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Another attack in 1544 by Japanese troops caused a breakdown in relations, but they were restored in 1547.


What is it called?
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Unfortunately, the book, which focuses on trade, doesn't go into the military matters. I was hoping that the dates could perhaps provide enough of a clue to look into it further. I'm still on the road, so I may have more luck later today when I finally get home.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
By thumbing through Steven Turnbull’s new book, Pirate of the Far East 811-1639, I’ve been able to compile the following Japanese wako raids on Korea.

1223- Numerous raids launched from northern Kyushu, Iki and Tsushima
1225-more raids
1226-Matsuura clan wako from Hizen raid Korea with “several tens of ships”. Pirates from Tsushima acted as their guides.
1227- Wako raids on Korea due to typhoon destroying the 1226 rice crop in northern Kyushu. Korea officially protested to Kyushu’s representatives of the Kamakura bakufu and 90 pirates are executed by Japanese authorities in the presence of Korean officials. Wako attacks on Korea drop off for a few years after this…
Nov 1232- retainers of the Kusano clan from Karatsu raid Korea. Hojo Yasutoki seems to have gotten irritated and takes a heavy handed approach against the Wako after Korea’s protest. At the time, Korea is under attack from the Mongols. Relations between Japan and Korea improve.
1251- Korea building defenses against pirate attack—either raids resumed or Korea as anticipating a resumption.
1259- Wako raids as a result of widespread famine
1273- Korea comes under Mongol rule
1274- First Mongol invasion of Japan
1281- Second Mongol invasion of Japan
1350- Six major wako raids on Korea (Japan in throes of Namboku War, famine as a result of natural disasters in 1346 and 1349; no trade with China since Mongol invasion.
1351-1375- average of 5 major wako raids per year
1376-1384- average rises to 40 attacks per year. Up to 3,000 Japanese involved in individual raids.
1380- Korea uses canon to destroy wako fleet at the mouth of the Geum river.
1389- Korean military launches attack on Tsushima, destroying 300 Japanese ships, burning homes and freeing 100 Korean prisoners.
1419- Korean military launches an amphibious nvasion of Tsushima (known as the Oei invasion). 200 ships ferry 17,000 troops in separate raids on the two islands that make up Tsushima. Korean forces are convinced to withdrawal due to the coming of the typhoon season (memories of Hakata during the Mongol invasion are reputed to come into play). Sō Sadamori reigns in wako as a result of the Korean invasion.
1443- Korea and Tsushima sign the Kakitsu treaty, legitimizing trade between Japan and Korea as well as cementing the Sō family’s position. The treaty allows 50 regular voyages per year to Korea.
Late 15th Century- over 200 Japanese ships per year visiting Korea and the Japanese are allowed to trade at 3 ports- Ulsan, Jinhae and Busan. Japanese are also allowed to set up communities—but limits were set at 60 households per port city.
1494- number of Japanese households illegally rise to 525, taxes are paid to the Sō in Tsushima, not the Korean gov’t. Japanese enclaves in Korea becoming centers of smuggling and piracy.
1506-1509- Korean speaking Japanese pirates launch three raids on the island of Gadeok and there are arson attacks in Jinhae.
1510- Korean gov’t tells the Sō to get the Japanese enclaves under control and to curb piracy or the Japanese would be thrown out of Korea. Japanese in the port cities riot, 4 Japanese are killed. Tsushima sends a fleet to raid Gadeok island the day of the uprising. (coordinated activity?) Korea goes on the counter-offensive and takes 295 Japanese heads. Relations see-saw over the following years.
1544- major wako raid on Korea
1555- 70 ships from the Goto islands and Hizen attack Jeolla province and Korean defenses are pushed aside.
1557- The Korean court re-instate the special privileges of the Sō family.

Wako activity turns more towards China and wako clans, some now “legitimized” as daimyo, start to pay more attention to fighting each other as the Sengoku period runs its course.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I wonder if its possible that because of the nefarious nature Korea had with Japan, that there would have been a feeling of resentment towards the Korean nation.

That long-time resentment may have led or at least been in part something that Hideyoshi or his men picked up on in the general public and wanted to capitalize on.

Wanting to captivate the hearts of his people, which I am still not convinced he had actually, he thought perhaps this would be a great demonstration of his might and his divine influence on the world (by world I mean anything outside Japan at that time).

What are the thoughts on Hideyoshi's reign? From what I've read I have the impression that he was not well liked. Ishikawa Goemon, a theif that lived during that time, was boiled in oil with his son for breaking into Hideyoshi's castle. The story goes that he did that because Hideyoshi was 'hording the wealth'. With his gruesome death, he become something of a robin hood character.

Perhaps the Korean situation was an attempt at multiple objectives, one of which was to gain the hearts of the citizenry and the other, to begin to solidify a tributary system in Korea.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Dash,

Sorry, but once again I've got to step in as the mod of this study group to keep things kind of on topic. Laughing

We won't be talking about the good, bad and ugly of Hideyoshi's reign in this discussion group outside of the context of his Korean invasion or if he was popular or not. Ditto on Ishikawa Goemon. This is a discussion on the Imjin War. Wink The wako raids were a slight digression, but have still some tangible connection to the overall theme as it relates to the Sō and that clan’s role in the diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea. Also, the wako raids foreshadow the "big officially sanctioned" wako raid to come in 1592.

As you did post an interesting question about Hideyoshi's popularity, why not post that out on the samurai history sub-forum? Very Happy Go for it!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Sorry about that, I'm really quite a noob here and showing my colors. I'll be more careful to stay on topic. Thanks for the direction. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Looking for a little more info on Korea before the war I was looking into "A New History of Korea" by Ki-baik Lee (translated by Edward W. Wagner, copyright 1984, Harvard University Press). It generally matches what Tatsunoshi wrote--I found it over interest that the Korean court had created the "Border Defense Council" (Pibyonsa) to deal with attacks by Japanese in the previous centuries, but it was hindered by the Yangban officials' disinterest in military matters.

There's some interesting information on the war, but I'll save that for later.


-Josh
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
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1544- major wako raid on Korea

OK so it wasn't Japanese troops.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just an overview from an interesting resource on Hideyoshi's quest for Korea.

I have a book published in 1911 titled "Peeps at History - Japan" by John Finnemore. London publisher Adam and Charles Black. I think the value of this is to demonstrate what historical books of the taisho period in English said about the current discussion.

The section regarding Hideyoshi's quest for Korea is interesting if not short.

Quote:
Hideyoshi knew that this has happened in India, in China, and several other parts of the East, and he made up his mind that it should not happen in Japan. So in 1587 he issued an edict ordering every missionary on pain of death to leave Japan within twenty days. This edict was not obeyed, but it caused the missionaries to go about their work more quietly, though they made converts apace.

Nor for some time, did Hideyoshi pay more attention to Christians, for he had the greatest war of his warlike career on his hands. He sent troops to assail Korea, and when Korea was overcome he intended to subdue China. The project failed, and the only result of this war was to crush Korea to the earth as a kingdom. Her fields were laid desolate, her cities were burned to the ground, and the country which had taught Japan so much fell into a hopeless, helpless state from which she never fully recovered.

In her misery she still continued to teach, for many of her skilled craftsmen were carried across to Japan where they improved the methods of the native workmen. ....
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Can anyone shed some light on this?

Quote:

Nokdongseowon Confucian Academy
Address : 592 Urok-ri, Gachang-myeon, Dalseong-gun, Daegu
Phone : 053-631-8159

This Confucian academy building was established in 1789 to commemorate Mohadang Kim Chung-seon. Kim was a Japanese general who became naturalized as a Korean when General Hideyoshi of Japan invaded Korea in 1592. Later, he greatly contributed to defending Korea from foreign invasions. Many Japanese tourists visit this place during their trip to Daegu.


I came across it while searching up information and would like to know more.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
A few points worthy of discussion.

heron wrote:
I'm reading Hawley at the moment so I'll paraphrase what he says about China.

The Ming Dynasty was in decline, though no one believed it or mentioned it within the Middle Kingdom. This was after all the centre of the earth if not the universe, the nation superior to all others, which was extremely "huge and rich and awesome and commanded the nominal allegiance of many far-flung lands." But internal problems made it much weaker than it seemed.

1. Lack of money and inability to raise and collect taxes.

This was a very serious issue in the Ming, namely because it had some fudemental problems with currencies (aka having no real backings on them and no real control mechcanism, thus they were continously depreciating at a very fast pace, a problem made much worse since there WAS a nominal value attached to the money by the court.

The most brutal aspect was the paper money, which at the start of the dynasty was distributed at a nominal value of 1 : 1000 copper coins. a standard that held for several centuries despite immediately begining to suffer from massive depriciation.

By mid dynasty, the court finally realize this problem and officially depriciated it all the way from 1:1000 to 1:4 (!!) and even then it was still probably overvalued. (the real value was more like 1:2 a that point) .

meanwhile, despite having a strong commerce history , the Ming went back to collecting taxes almost entirely based on goods instead of money, only some of the taxes were collected VIA money. this was a significant backstep from the Song dynstasy.

This resulted in the Ming having massive problems traslating their (very substaintial) resources into actual power. since they usually end up having too much of everything except what they actually need. not to meantion this sort of government logic contributed to the decline in monetary uses and general decline in commerce.

The situation was quite dire during the middle portions of the dynasty, coupled with the early dynasty sea ban, and it isn't hard to see why pirates were the fad during that span.

However, towards the later portion of the dynasty this actually began to change, as a series of disastorous attempts to correct the problem eventually resulted in the Ming collecting taxes almost entirely based on silver. with silver becomming the effective currency of the time and the backings of all the currencies, a move that helped to stablize the situation significantly. the greatest height of this revival was precisely during the early reigns of Wanli, when his chief counselor (aka his guardian and actual ruler in the stead of the child emperor) Chang Ju Zheng pushed for the one whip law to cement the development process. (and the Ming also began to significantly losen up on the sea ban.)

Toward the late dynasty, another problem was them granting "permanent" tax exemption to those who make large donations to the government, obviously a short sighted move that would come back to haunt them very soon.

Quote:

2. Factional strife within government


While serious, this wasn't really the biggest problem, the way the government set up also had negative impact since the emperor ended up being incharge of way too many things and most of the later emperors simply found the work unbarable, while Wanli is noted for his lack of interest in the court he was HARDLY a unique case. pretty much he and the 4 emperors proceeding him all were similarly disentrested, though they did it in different fashions (while Wanli simply hid in the court, his uncle basically slipped out of town dressed as a commoner and did all sorts of crazy stuff, and / or pretended to be a great military leader and lead large armies to attack small bandits Just Kidding)

Quote:

3. Corruption among officials


Of course, another systematic issue with this was that the officals were poorly paid, a situation made much worse due to the constant depriciating currency that they were paid in.

Also, one of the most curious and negative aspect of the traditional Chinese system (the Qing dynasty eventually made some improvements though, but this was basically the problem from Han to Ming) was that the mens working UNDER those officials often had no budget . the courts simply never made up rules dictating how they were suppose to be paid. but it is simply impossible for a court offical to run a county or province by himself (duh) , even small county officals would at least need to keep a group of a dozen or more staff to maintain operation, while larger provincial government usually had staffs in the hundreds, yet the absurdity is that while everyone knows and acknowledge this, many of them were running without any offical budgets, thus no salaries to speak of.

So this creates a huge grey area, even the most charitable and moral offical can't possibly fund his staff out of his own pocket, and it is obviously impossible to ask them to work for nothing (though some actually did! since a lot of the staff were suppose to be rotated between the civillians. only a part of them were life time professionals). Thus all sorts of methods were deviced to fund the local government operation, most borderline legal, some outright illegal, and even more of them were simply in no-man's land in terms of their legal status.


Quote:

4. Decreasing military strength. Much smaller actual numbers in the armed forces than were recorded. Discipline terrible, leadership weak (due to the widespread influence of Neo-Confucianism most officials including commanders put more faith in moral and ethical character than in learning military tactics and leadership.)


This was more true in the early 1500s than late though, since towards mid dynasty many problems began poping up, and practicality took over ideology, the Ming began recruiting more privatly based professional armies, and generals were generally more and more so appointed based on actual records, soldier's actual combat worthiness will also improve when they're actually fighting. (duh) disicpline indeed was good in many cases though. (for example, Deng Zhi Long, the Chinese general killed alongside Admiral Yi, had a long track record of success in the south but was fired several time in his life because of troop discipline problems) The Ming also wasn't nearly as paranoid of their generals in this span as say... Korea... or the Song dynasty.

Quote:

5. A series of crises from 1570s to 1610s: Pirate raids in the southeast, Mongol raids in the North, mutiny on the Manchurian frontier, clashes on the Burmese border, famine in the West.


The pirates were actually mostly dealt with by the 70s, it was the early half of the century that was the real problem, the mongol coalitions were also begining to fall apart by Wanli's time, and the Ming made very significant headways against them to ensure that they are now more of a pest than a true mortal threat.

The Manchurian frontier did't become that much of a problem till after the Imjin war. at this point Nurhachi was still at least nominally a loyal vessal to the Ming, and in fact the Li family of Liao Dong (They were the primary leaders of the first Imjin war on the Ming side) was still proping Nurhaci up at this point, hoping that they can install a powerful and loyal vessal to the Ming (Nurhachi and his younger brother was captured as a youth by Li Cheng Liang, and it was said that he was sort of like a step son to him and he treated him well (partially out of guilt, since his father was actually loyal to the Ming but was accidently killed in the incident that got Nurhaci captured), a cased made more firm in that Nurhaci rebelled exactly the year after Li's death (by declaring himself Khan and naming his state the later Jin), and amoung all the Ming forces he crushed in the battle of Sarhu the only one that wasn't attacked just happened to be lead by Li's other son, Li Ru Bo). of course they only got the powerful part right though.

Burmese conflict was more of a joke then anything, at that point the Burmese armies were truely no match for the Ming, and several attempts were completely crushed by relatively small Ming forces lead by Liu Ting and Deng Zhi Long, both of them still managed to find the time to fight the imjin war during their "war" with the Burmess on the other end of the empire Laughing

And as I will discuss later, the famine didn't really hit till the 17th century. it wasn't a issue in the late 16th century.

Quote:

6. The Wanli Emperor, after a promising start, had some sort of personality breakdown, shirking royal responsibilities and initiating a succession crisis which occupied the Chinese court and civil service throughout the 1590s


Actually, as I pointed out earlier, this wasn't just Wanli's thing, most of his predecessor were more or less like that, though Wanli probably topped them all by doing the one thing that will truely kill the court, not showing up at all.

It is difficult to say who's fault it is on the succession issue, in more modern prespective we can see that it was clear that the motive of Wanli in this was pure and simple love, as he simply loved his concubine much more than his offical queen. they were close even when both reached their middle age. From the writings that survived it seemed that this concubined treated him like a man she loved, and not just the son of heaven, so it wasn't hard to see why a person trapped in the forbidden city since childhood would fall for that, and why he wanted to give the world to his true love. not exactly unrational. (though their son was said to be extremely fat... at least he was when he was killed by the rebel Li Zi Chen near the end of the dynasty, on the other hand he outlived his brother for so long that maybe it would have been better off that he inherited th throne if only for political stability sake.)

You see even in Korea, the supposedly even more rigid thinking Confucian nation, Seonjo immediately desginated Gwanghae as his heir when the elder son was captured, and didnt reverse the decision even when the elder son was returned and his queen gave birth to a son at old age. (still it didn't end that much better in Joseon's case)

Still, the final blow to the Ming had very much to do with natural disastors, as the mini ice age also hit China right at that point, and the poorer North Western region was utterly devastated, basically forcing the local residence to revolt.

Of course, if the Ming's financial system wasn't quite as messed up , there was at least a chance that they could have quelled the situation by redirecting their resouces. but that wasn't the case. as the continous war and the later emperor's mess drained them of most of their resources, not to meantion the Machurian threat.


Last edited by RollingWave on Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:40 am; edited 2 times in total
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