Have Japanese samurai ever fought abroad

Toyotomi's Japan

Shogunate Nippon

Motto: "If you want big things, you have to do the little things first."

Form of government

Enlightened absolutism in the style of the shoguns

Head of state

Head of government

Toyotomi's Japan

Reason for the discrepancy:

1592; Japan's army is much more successful in the Imjin War in Korea.

Time of the deviation: 1590

Period of time: 1537 - 1947

Focus on Nations:

Japan, Joseon, China, Asia

Brief information about timeline:

Japan in the 16th century; The general and nobleman Toyomoto starts the fight against Korea. He wants to expand the power of Japan to the mainland. Toyomoto has to face his rivals and eliminate them. As a powerful new Shogun, he founded the new kingdom of Nippon in 1600. The new Japanese continue their successes. In later centuries, the rivalry between Japan and Britain grows stronger. The Japanese empire is growing and sees itself as a world power at the beginning of the 20th century. When the First World War broke out in 1914, the shogunate of Japan was also there. On the side of the German Reich, Japan wages a bitter sea war against the USA and the United Kingdom, which it inevitably had to lose ... (Alternative ending)

Toyotomi Hideyoshi prehistory 1537-1590

March 17, 1537; Toyotomi Hideyoshi was born a simple farmer's child in the village of Nakamura in the Japanese province of Owari. He became a fighter and took part in campaigns in the war of the Japanese princes, where he fought for the province of Mikawa. Because of his pregnant appearance, his fellow riders called him the monkey. At that time Japan was fiercely contested, with various feudal lords claiming the provinces. It was the Japanese Middle Ages and warriors had been fighting with modern weapons such as arquebuses and gunpowder since 1543. This development came about after a Portuguese sold two muzzle-loading rifles to the Japanese. Within a very short time, the gunsmiths produced around 20,000 copies of the weapon. The Japanese warlords had quickly developed their own strategies for waging war with firearms and were considered masters of them. Toyotomi Hideyoshi had to flee after a lost battle and then entered the service of Oda Nobunagas. With that he also returned to his home province of Owari. In his home province, Toyotomi Hideyoshi showed his true abilities; Skill, diplomacy and tactical skills. Over the years, he climbed the career ladder steeply. The warrior decorated his helmet with deer antlers and attracted so much attention. In the war against the Asai and Asakura, the leader proved to be excellent. Upon his return home in 1573, Toyotomi awaited further honors. He was made daimyo over Nagahama in Sudomi by his feudal lord Nobunaga. The farmer's boy had thus risen to become one of the influential gentlemen of Nippon. (Japan's old name: Nippon) After that, he dropped his real name and called himselfHideyoshi. As Toyotomi Hideyoshi's feudal lord

Nobunaga was murdered by assassins on June 21, 1582, and he was on a military campaign. Therefore he fought the client and his house Akechi Mitsuhide; After his victory, Toyotomi returned home and built himself in Osaka Castle in 1583. Now as the most powerful man in Japan, he ruled the island kingdom from the province of Settsu. The high office of Shogun was denied to him because of his low birth. He now ruled Japan as Kampaku. He was only subordinate to the emperor, but had more power than the monarch through his army. It was not until 1590 that Toyotomi had militarily subjugated all of his opponents. Now Japan was more or less united. Hideyoshi continued Nobunaga's pro-Jesuit policies, helping traders from Europe gain some influence. Arms, religion, commodities and ideologies came to Japan across the ocean. Not every subordinate of the Kampaku was pleased with the long-nosed strangers. Yet Toyotomi Hideyoshi's ambitions did not end on his own doorstep. He looked to the west where the vast empire of China lay. Joseon (Korea) a vassal state of the Chinese now seemed worth conquering to the Lord of Japan.

Time line:

Bunroku-Keichō War 1592-1593

Bunroku Keicho War

Part of:


Japan occupies Korea and humiliates China's Ming Emperor

Korea, then known as Joseon, was closely tied to China in 1590. The kings of Joseon had a lot in common with China, but relations with Japan were strained. The Korean fleet had long struggled with Japanese pirate raids and had been increased by the king. The Korean seafarers were thus well equipped. Hideyoshi had the idea to invade Korea in 1590. He wanted to prevent his sovereigns from further fighting in their own country by looking for a foreign enemy. Korea was made for this because its defense consisted of volunteers and there was no standing army. Japan's elite warriors the samurai were already waiting in the starting blocks to wage a war against foreign powers. Hideyoshi wanted to use the modern techniques of the West, so Japan entered the war well armed with arquebuses and cannons. Like 50 years before, the Japanese had acquired cannons, which they soon built by the hundreds themselves. The Koreans were not to be underestimated, especially their fleet. The Joseon Empire's navy had a secret weapon; a kind of ironclad the turtle ships. These ships, also called Geobukseon, proved to be stubborn opponents. Japan, on the other hand, had heavily armed, the Japanese gentleman had long been familiar with modern firearms and his own suitable tactics such as rifle lines. On April 14, 1592, a 160,000-strong Japanese army with 700 ships landed in Busan. The Japanese were faced with a completely overwhelmed defense. Sometimes the Korean commanders pointed to serious character defects, others were simply stationed in the wrong branch of service. Cavalrymen commanding warships in the Korean army were also incapable. About three quarters of the Japanese were armed with firearms, as was the fleet. Since Hideyoshi had so heavily upgraded his armies and fleet since 1590, the Korean turtle ships were helpless. The destruction of a Korean fleet gave the Japanese courage to fight. The Japanese guns, some of which were heavy, were able to penetrate the tanks of the turtle ships. The Koreans also had cannons on their ironclad ships, but were soon at a disadvantage due to the better Japanese cannons.

With the death of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the defensive Koreans' trend of happiness ended. YiSun-his military acumen had repeatedly led the Koreans to sea victories,

but without him the navy was often headless. Aid from the mighty neighboring country did not arrive until the summer of 1592. Emperor Wanli underestimated the situation and initially only sent a small force for his vassal. The Korean royal family fled to Pyongyang, where they believed they were safe. The capital Hansong (Seoul) and some provinces had already fallen after the 20th day of the invasion. The real opponent, China, was reluctant to fight. The Chinese emperor first believed that the Korean king was actually making common cause with the invaders. He believed in sabotage and betrayal. There had also been revolts against the emperor in the monolithic empire of China. Wanli foresaw defeat for China and continued to accuse the Korean royal family of having come to terms with the Japanese. Nevertheless, at the beginning of 1593, large Chinese troops arrived on the battlefield. This great Chinese army led by General Li Rusong should make China proud, the emperor believed. Although the Chinese were experienced in combat, they found it very difficult to deal with the modern arquebuses of the Japanese. Since Hideyoshi had equipped his armies with masses of black powder weapons and even carried heavy mortars with them, Japan was able to defeat the giant Chinese army. This showed that the modern technology of Japan in the 16th century was superior to the Middle Ages. Toyotomi Hideyoshi triumphed and now made some demands on the Emperor of China. The samurai stayed behind as an occupying force in Joeson. Wanli had lost face and agreed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi's demands. The Japanese demanded free trade with China, a Chinese princess to be the wife of the Japanese emperor and compensation of several hundred thousand teal (chin currency). The humiliated emperor withdrew to his palace. The defeat in what the Japanese called the Bunroku-Keichō War brought China into a serious crisis. The Ming Dynasty found itself in a bad position in the 17th century. Toyotomi Hideyoshi had given the Ming Dynasty a hard blow with his victory against China that would ultimately be their fatal blow. The humiliation of having to trade with the barbaric Japanese was perhaps even heavier on Chinese self-esteem than the loss of Korea. The new Korea under Japan's administration was born, Toyotomi Hideyoshi sent trustworthy people to Korea. But also princes who were to be rewarded who were critical of him. Since Toyotomi Hideyoshi wanted to end the civil war in Japan, he sent his opponents abroad. Now far from Kyoto, Toyotomi's opponents hardly had the opportunity to intervene in Japan. Some of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's enemies saw their new Korean lands as a good opportunity to improve and a small group could be turned into allies.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi was also so wise and did not disempower every Korean nobleman. So he negotiated with King Seongjo of Joeson. Seongjo became vassal king of the Emperor of Japan, so Seongjo's position had only changed to the fact that he was now serving Japan. Korea's civil servants were supposed to keep their privileges but were accountable to the new masters. For Toyotomi Hideyoshi this was the first step in converting Korea into a colony, whereby he showed a little more sensitivity than other conquerors.

For China's emperor, the deal between Japan and the King of Joeson was proof of the betrayal already suspected during the war. But the Chinese had made an agreement that they didn't want to break at first. The won war enabled Japan to look further outside. Toyotomi Hideyoshi's contemporaries believed that he suffered from megalomania because he wanted to rule more than an island kingdom. The victory of Korea silenced the isolationists of Japan, because every noble of Japan was now proud of the victory over the barbarians. The subsequent opening of Japan now proceeded gradually, with the island only opening up to what appeared to be beneficial.

Second opening of Japan 1593-1603

After the Bunroku-Keichō War, peace in Japan was not quite achieved. Two of the three “unites” vied for supremacy in the empire. Toyotomi and Tokugawa Ieyasu were once in the service of Oda Nobunagas, despite their differences with brothers in arms, they had come together and were considered heroes of the glorious Bunroku-Keichō War. Both figured out chances as Shogun. (Military ruler of Japan) Emperor Go-Yōzei was weak and was under the protection of the two unites. A new power struggle was already brewing behind the scenes. Tokugawa turned down Toyotomi's offer to take over land in Korea. Tokugawa then prepared to fight the Kampaku Toyotomi in 1594. As one of five regents (daimyo), Tokugawa belonged to Japan's power elite, only Toyotomi and Emperor Go-Yōzei were outflanked. The battle between the mighty of Japan ended after the emperor intervened and the two had to sit down together at a table. As members of Japan's warrior elite, both princes were subject to a strict code that forced them to obey the Tenno. The peace enforced by the emperor turned out to be superficial. Both Toyotomi and Tokugawa played their own game, their goal was to become Shogun. The unificationists tried to achieve this goal by covert means such as assassins and bribery. Toyotomi Hideyoshi hired the well-known robber chief Ishikawa Goemon as a contract killer. Ishikawa Goemon was not a samurai and therefore not bound by any code. Ishikawa Goemon is later portrayed in the story as a shinobi (ninja), but he was more of a rough man than a specialized assassin. As the gap between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu widened, Ishikawa targeted travelers in Tokugawa's province. While Tokugawa advocated closing the borders, the Kampaku took a different view of the matter. Merchants from Spain, Portugal soon after 1600 but also the Netherlands and England were allowed to call at some contract ports. These three commercial ports in Japan; Nagasaki, Yokohama, Hirado, and several others in Korea were well chosen to receive European goods. There the foreign barbarians lived in enclaves and operated offices. Spaniards and Portgiesen were given the name southern barbarians.

(Namban) The trade in arms was also important for the Japanese, although little was bought, but instead people were always interested in technical innovations.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi knew how to gain a monopoly on arms imports. European weapons technology continued to flow into the war tactics of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army. The gunsmiths of Japan knew how to replicate weapons and soon built their own constructions such as the "ninefold fire dragon". This weapon was considered a masterpiece of Japanese weapons engineering.

a row fire cannon with nine barrels. Tokugawa Ieyasu despised the new weapons as they could make the samurai obsolete with his hand-to-hand combat skills. Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi were both of the opinion that the Christian religion in Japan should be treated with caution. Initially, Hideyoshi continued the Jesuit-friendly policies of his predecessor Nobunaga. But he soon realized that the missionaries were playing the wrong game and missionaries in places that were forbidden to them. It also seemed that the Jesuits were making common cause with foreign smugglers' gangs to bring the attempted goods into Japan without permission. The traders did not use the contract ports as prescribed, but instead smuggled the goods on beaches into the country past customs. The source of income from the customs payments was so important to Hideyoshi that he hunted the smugglers. His strong protectionist trade policy was therefore also criticized by foreigners. But Tokugawa also opposed. The Spanish and Portuguese in particular were a thorn in the side of Tokugawa. In 1596 the Tokugawa people staged a sham shipwreck. A Spanish merchant ship was seized and put on sand on a forbidden beach by Tokugawa's Japanese assistants. This crime by the Europeans was of course immediately blown by Tokugawa. There were also Jesuits on board, who were now charged with promoting smuggling. This was also a reason for Toyotomi Hideyoshi to take action against the annoying Jesuit order. reached. A year later, Kaiser Go joined-Yōzei back. Under pressure from Toyotomi, the emperor made him the Shogun of Japan. There has been no shogun since Ashikaga Yoshiaki (1573). Furthermore, Shogun Toyotomi led his country into the opening to the west. He made very targeted use of the denominational differences between Europeans. Toyotomi gave the Protestant Dutch and English some privileges, which led to a dispute between the Spaniards / Portuguese and the Dutch / English. The Shogun could use the competition of the Europeans for trade with Japan well by playing off the parties against each other. But Shogun Toyotomi was also interested in the shipbuilding technology of the strangers. In 1600 the Dutch ship Liefde ran aground on Japan's coast. As always, the authorities wanted to execute the shipwrecked lawbreakers, but one man stood out from the crowd of seafarers. The Englishman William Adams offered himself to the Shogun as navigator and shipbuilder. Adams was almost beheaded, but the shrewd Englishman managed to buy himself out and audition at Toyotomi. Toyotomi was fascinated and allowed Adams to work for him, because the Shogun wanted its own fleet that was at least equal to the Europeans. As a Shogun, Toyotomi saw that his empire (Japan, Korea) could be a strong modern sea power. This was necessary because one wanted to secure the shipping routes to Korea and China from pirates.

The new supreme navigator of the empire William Adams was commissioned to design new types of ships according to European characteristics. This should conclude the first phase of the opening up of Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu, an enemy of the Shogun, had also died on the night of the seven knives. Shogun Toyotomi wanted to combine tradition and modernity, and until his death in 1603 he continued to reform the army. Farmers and soldiers were strictly separated, farmers were forbidden to leave their lands.