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Born 1536; died Sept. 15, 1598, in Fushimi. Military leader and statesman of feudal Japan.
Of peasant origin, Toyotomi evinced extraordinary military talents, in recognition of which he was made a close aide of Oda Nobunaga during the latter’s campaigns to create a centralized state. After Oda’s death in 1582, Toyotomi assumed full power, although he formally held only the post of chancellor (kampaku). In his efforts to strengthen the centralized state machinery, he undertook several expeditions against Japan’s princes; he also carried out reforms intended to consolidate the feudal system. In 1588, Toyotomi issued an edict directing that all weapons—swords, daggers, bows, and guns—be confiscated from the peasants. Between 1589 and 1595 he put into effect a series of measures aimed at restoring serfdom. Among them was a census of landed estates; after it was taken, the peasants were forbidden to leave the lands to which they were registered.
In 1592, Toyotomi led Japan’s feudal lords in a predatory war against Korea, hoping to go on to conquer China and the other countries of the Far East. The Japanese, however, were defeated in the Imdin War in 1598.
REFERENCESZhukov, E. M. “Politika Khideesi v otnoshenii krest’ianstva.” Izv. AN SSR: Ser. istorii i filosofii, 1946, vol. 3, no. 6.
Personality in Japanese History. Berkeley, Calif., 1970.