Emperor Junnin (淳仁天皇)

Emperor Junnin (733 - November 10, 765) was the forty seventh emperor of Japan (the period of reign: September 7, 758 - November 6, 764). He is called Haitei (Dethroned Emperor) or Awaji Haitei (Deposed Emperor of Awaji) in ancient documents. His real name was Oi and he was called Prince Oi before he ascended the throne.

Personal Profile
He was born the seventh son of Imperial Prince Toneri, the prince of Emperor Tenmu. His mother was TAIMA no Yamashiro. Because his father died when he was three years old, although he was a grandson of Emperor Tenmu, he was not given an official rank, let alone his presence never drew attention.

In 757, he was installed as the Crown Prince by the unmarried Empress Koken on behalf of Prince Funado who became the Crown Prince according to the will of Emperor Shomu. FUJIWARA no Nakamaro (later changed his name to EMI no Oshikatsu) recommended Prince Oi to be the Crown Prince strongly. Prince Oi had a strong relationship with Nakamaro, having married AWATA no Morone, a widow of FUJIWARA no Mayori who was a daughter of Nakamaro, and lived in Nakamaro's private house.

Accession to the throne
In 758, Prince Oi ascended the throne, vacated by Empress Koken.

It was good that Prince Oi could ascend the throne; however, Nakamaro seized most real political power and Empress Komyo (FUJIWARA no Komyoshi), the guardian of Nakamaro, had a strong influence on politics. Due to the occurrence of the Anshi Rebellion in Tang, Emperor Junnin tightened the security in Kyushu; however, he allowed Nakamaro to pursue the plan to subjugate Silla and also changed the names of official ranks to Chinese style.

The discord between Retired Empress Koken and Emperor Junnin began after she started to give Dokyo an important position. Emperor Junnin protested against the relationship between Retired Empress Koken and Dokyo, which led to the confrontation between them. In 762, in order to reassume the supreme power as Emperor, Retired Empress Koken declared that "Current emperor should administer the ordinary state affairs and minor political matters. We'll administer a matter of national importance and justice." Due to this declaration, some researchers think that the political power was moved to Retired Empress Koken, others say that Emperor Junnin still exerted his power because he had possessed Gyoji (the Imperial Seal). The researchers don't have the established opinion yet.

In 764, after the revolt of Fujiwara no Nakamaro, Emperor Junnin didn't act together with his supposed best guardian, Nakamaro. As to the reason, some say that Emperor Junnin was already captured by the ex-emperor's side, others say that having gave up on Nakamaro, Emperor Junnin was trying to reconcile with the ex-emperor's side.
(Nakamaro unwillingly attempted to help Prince Shioyaki to be the new emperor because he couldn't bring Emperor Junnin out.)

Next month after the revolt, Chuguin Palace where Emperor Junnin had lived was surrounded by the armies of Retired Empress Koken. Due to the "close relationship with Nakamaro," Emperor Junnin was dethroned by Retired Empress Koken and exiled to Awaji Province, having been treated as the Imperial Prince. However, many government officials visited Emperor Junnin to Awaji and also in the capital of the country, there were the power who attempted Emperor Junnin's return. Having felt the sense of danger to this political situation, in February 765, Retired Empress Koken ordered to tighten the security in Awaji to SAEKI no Tasuku and others who were kokushu (the governors of the province). In October of the same year, Emperor Junnin attempted to escape but he was arrested and died in the palace next day. Officially it is said that Emperor Junnin was died of sickness; actually, however, it is highly possible that he was died of wounds received when he escaped.

Imperial Mausoleum
The imperial mausoleum of Emperor Junnin was built in Mihara County, Awaji Province (it is said that the place is present day Tenomorioka, Minami-Awaji City, Hyogo Prefecture).

In 772, Emperor Konin sent sixty Buddhist monks to hold a Buddhist service for the repose of the soul of the Emperor Junnin.

In 778, the tomb was admitted as an imperial tomb.

However, although he ascended the throne, due to the wish of Empress Koken, he hadn't been admitted as an Emperor of Japan for a long time and called as Haitei (Dethroned Emperor) or Awaji Haitei (Deposed Emperor of Awaji).

Posthumous Title
In 1870, together with Emperor Kobun (Prince Otomo) and Emperor Chukyo, he received a posthumous name, "Emperor Junnin" from Emperor Meiji.

In 1873, Emperor Junnin was enshrined in Shiramine Jingu shrine sacred to the memory of Emperor Sutoku who died in the place of exile like Emperor Junnin.

[Original Japanese]