Soga clan

Soga clan

The nihongo|Soga clan|蘇我氏|Soga no uji was one of the most powerful clans in Yamato Japan and played a major role in the spread of Buddhism in that country. The Soga Clan is of direct Korean descent due to the fact that a Korean clan moved to Japan and became the Soga Clan. For many generations, in the 6th and 7th centuries, the Soga monopolized the position of Great Royal Chieftain (Ō-omi) and was the first of many families to dominate the Imperial House of Japan by influencing the order of succession and government policy. The Soga clan claimed descendance from Emperor Kōgen. [Soga faminy tree [http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%94%BB%E5%83%8F:Soga_faminy_tree.svg] ]

oga no Iname

Soga no Iname served as Great Minister from 536 until his death in 570, and was the first of the Soga clan to carry to extreme lengths the domination of the Throne by the nobility. One of the chief ways he exerted influence was through marital connections with the imperial family; Iname married one of his daughters to Emperor Kimmei. Ironically, the Soga unified and strengthened the country by expanding the power of the Emperor as a symbol and spiritual leader, even as they, a line of non-imperial nobles, took control of secular matters.

Connection to Buddhism

Having close ties with immigrants from the Korean peninsula, the Soga clan supported the spread of Buddhism when it was first introduced in Japan during the sixth century by monks from the Korean kingdom of Baekje. [ [http://www.pref.nara.jp/pro-e/rekishi.htm History of Nara ] ] Many Japanese at the time, disliking foreign ideas and believing that this new religion might be an affront to the traditional "kami", or Shinto gods, opposed Buddhism. The rival Mononobe and Nakatomi clans succeeded in gathering hostility against this new religion when a disease spread, following the arrival of a Buddhist statue. It was claimed the epidemic was a sign of anger by the local spirits and the Soga temple at the palace was burned down.

The Soga family, however, firmly believed that the most civilized people believed in Buddhism and continued to actively promote it, placing a holy image of the Buddha in a major Shinto shrine. Soga no Iname claimed that Buddhism brought with it a new form of government that would subvert the independence of the clans, unifying the Japanese people under the emperor. After fifty years of ideological war, Buddhism, defended and protected by the Soga, began to take hold in Japan.

Political assertiveness and reactions

However, by 644, the heads of the Soga clan were no longer satisfied to act behind the scenes. Soga no Emishi and his son Iruka began to build more and more elaborate palaces and tombs for themselves, styling themselves sovereigns. There seems little doubt that they intended to do away with the reigning dynasty, making themselves the new imperial line. But the leader of the Nakatomi clan, Nakatomi no Kamatari, conspired with Soga no Kurayamada no Ishikawa no Maro and Prince Naka no Ōe, and arranged for Iruka's assassination. Emishi's followers dispersed, and many were subsequently killed. The Soga clan's hold over the imperial family was broken and, two years later, Emperor Kōtoku enacted the Taika Reforms returning power to the emperor.

Some important members of the Soga clan:
*Soga no Iname: head of the Clan, served as Great Minister from 536 until his death in 570.
*Soga no Umako: succeeded to post of Great Minister in 570.
*Soga no Emishi: attempted to overthrow Imperial family in 640s
*Soga no Iruka: son of Emishi
*Soga no Kurayamada no Ishikawa no Maro: conspirator against Emishi and Iruka; became Minister of the Right in 645.

References

*Sansom, George (1958). "A History of Japan to 1334"' Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
*Hall, John Whitney, et al. (1993). "The Cambridge History of Japan: Volume 1 Ancient Japan". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521223520.


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