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Emperor Yōmei

Emperor Yōmei

Emperor Yōmei (用明天皇, Yōmei Tennō, -587) was the thirty-first emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He reigned from 585 until his death.

He is called Tachibana no Toyohi no Mikoto (橘豊日尊) in the Nihon shoki. He is also named Prince Ōe (大兄皇子, Ōe no Miko, literally Crown Prince) and Prince Ikebe (池辺皇子, Ikebe no Miko), after the place where he lived.

He acceded to the throne after the death of his half-brother Emperor Bidatsu.

Emperor Yōmei Genealogy

The fourth son of Emperor Kinmei, his mother was Soga no Kitashi-hime, a daughter of Soga no Iname.

In 586, Yōmei took his half-sister princess Hashihoto no Anahobe (穴穂部間人皇女, Hashihito no Anahobe no Himemiko) as empress consort. She bore him four sons, including Prince Shōtoku, who later became crown prince and regent to Empress Suiko.

According to the Nihon shoki, Yōmei additionally has two concubines.

Empress and consorts

Emperor Yōmei had seven children by three wives:

  • Soga no Ishikina (Iwakina or Okitashi-hime), his aunt, daughter of Soga no Iname; imperial consort; from whom he had one son:
    • prince Tame Toyora; born c. 560, married to his aunt princess Toneri, daughter of emperor Kinmei and Soga no Kitashi-hime, died 603; later married princess Hasetsukabe no Anahobe no Hashihito, his aunt and mother-in-law, daughter of emperor Kinmei and Soga no Oane-hime, widow of emperor Yōmei, from whom he had:
      • princess Saho no Kimi ;
  • princess Hasetsukabe no Anahobe no Hashihito, his half-sister, born c. 560, daughter of emperor Kinmei by Soga no Oane-hime; married c. 573; raised to empress in 585; empress dowager; died in 621; by whom he had four sons:
    • Prince Umayado Shōtoku, born 574; died 622; regent during the reign of Empress Suiko; married Princess Uji no Shidzukahi (Uji no Kahitako), daughter of Emperor Bidatsu and Empress Suiko; then to Hokikimi no Iratsume, daughter of Kashiwade no Katabuko no Omi, died 622; then to Soga no Tojiko no Iratsume, daughter of Soga no Umako; finally to Inabe no Tachibana no Miko, daughter of Ibane no Ohari no Miko; he had five children from Hokikimi, four from Tojiko and two from Tachibana:
    • princess Tsuishine no Miko, married to her half-brother Yamashiro no Oe;
    • Princess Hatsuse no Miko;
    • princess Kuhata no Miko ;
    • prince Hatori no Miko ;
    • prince Sakikusa no Miko ;
    • prince Yamashiro no Oe, died in 643 ;
    • Princess Takara no Miko;
    • Princess Hiki no Miko;
    • Prince Kataoka no Oka;
    • prince Shirakabe no Miko ;
    • prince Teshima no Miko;
    • Prince Kume no Miko, 603 ;
    • Prince Yeguri (Uekuri) no Miko ;
    • Prince Mata (Mamuta) no Miko;
  • Imenoko (Ihiko) no Iratsume, daughter of Katsuragi no Tagima no Kurabito; imperial consort; of whom two children:
    • prince Maroko; ancestor of the Tagima no Kimi family;
    • princess Nukate-Hime or Sukateko no Miko; born around 570; vestal princess of Ise in 586; died around 623.

Emperor Yōmei Reign

Bidatsu's powerful ministers, Mononobe no Moriya and Soga no Umako, retained their respective positions during Yōmei's reign. Umako was the son of Iname, and thus a relative of Yōmei.

Because of the brevity of his reign, Emperor Yōmei did not lead any radical changes in policy, but his support for Buddhism created tensions with Shinto conservatives who opposed its introduction.

Mononobe no Moriya, the most influential supporter of Shinto, conspired with the emperor's brother, Prince Anahobe, and after Yōmei's death they unsuccessfully attempted to seize the throne.

Although Yōmei is supposed to have died of illness, this incident and the brevity of his reign have led some to speculate that he was murdered by Moriya and Anahobe.