Oda government (織田政権)

The Oda government is a samurai government which existed in Japan from 1573 (virtually 1568) to 1582.

Details on the establishment of the Oda government.

Nobunaga ODA beat Yoshimoto IMAGAWA in the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, and with that momentum, he conquered Mino Province. In 1568, with Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, brother of the former shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA as his lord, Nobunaga successfully banished and subdued Miyoshi and Matsunaga and their administration which had been in power in Kyoto. This enabled Nobunaga to put forward Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA as the 15th shogun of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and he, as his guardian, established the government.

After that, Nobunaga subjugated all daimyos (Japanese feudal lord) in the Kinai region (the five capital provinces surrounding the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto) such as Tomonori KITABATAKE of Ise Province, Yoshitsugu MIYOSHI of Kawachi Province and Hisahide MATSUNAGA of Yamato Province, and gained control over the majority of the Kinai region.

Crisis within the government

However, Yoshiaki soon became dissatisfied with his position as Nobunaga's puppet. When Nobunaga set up 'Denchu on okite' (regulations for the shogunal residence) to hold back Yoshiaki, the antagonism between the two solidified. Yoshiaki commanded Shingen TAKEDA of Kai Province, Terumoto MORI of Aki Province, Nagamasa AZAI of Omi Province, Yoshikage ASAKURA of Echizen Province, Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple in Settsu Province and others to hunt down and kill Nobunaga and organized an anti-Nobunaga network. In response, Nobunaga defeated enemy forces in the Battle of Anegawa, set fire to the Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei (in 1571) and won other battles, but Tokugawa's allied forces were soundly defeated by Shingen TAKEDA, a powerful enemy, in the Battle of Mikatagahara, which brought Nobunaga to a crisis.

Fortunately, though, Shingen TAKEDA died from a disease on his way to Kyoto in May, 1573 and his army returned to the Kai Province. Nobunaga took advantage of this opportunity and immediately went to Kyoto with his army and banished the Shogun Yoshiaki to Kawachi Province. This was virtually the end of the Muromachi bakufu and the Oda government was established in Kinai region. Then, Nobunaga continued with this momentum and destroyed his enemy forces such as Nagamasa AZAI, Yoshikage ASAKURA and Yoshitsugu MIYOSHI to take full control of Kinai and its surrounding area.

Expansion of the sphere of influence

Nobunaga subdued Ise Nagashima Ikko Ikki (an uprising of Ikko Buddhist sect followers in Nagashima, Ise Province) in 1574, and the next year, he defeated the Takeda army led by Katsuyori TAKEDA, the successor of Shingen TAKEDA, at the Battle of Nagashino with an ingenious use of matchlock guns. In the same year, Nobunaga also eradicated the Ikko sect followers who rebelled against him in the Echizen and Kaga Provinces to take control of the area.

However, Kenshin UESUGI, the biggest enemy of Nobunaga after Shingen's death, conciliated with Ishiyamahongan-ji Temple in 1576 and broke their alliance with Nobunaga, and in the next year, he crushed the Oda army led by Katsuie SHIBATA in the Battle at Tetori River. Hisahide MATSUNAGA of Yamato Province, Ishiyamahongan-ji Temple, Terumoto MORI of Aki Province, Katsuyori TAKEDA of Kai Province and others took this opportunity and simultaneously took action against Nobunaga, and as a result, Nobunaga, besieged by his enemies, faced a crisis once more. However, when Kenshin died suddenly in May 1578, Nobunaga again seized the occasion and defeated all the anti-Nobunaga forces. After Kenshin's death, the Uesugi Clan was headed by his adopted son, Kagekatsu UESUGI, who was no threat to Nobunaga, and their power declined due to family trouble called the Otate War, therefore it can be said that the death of Kenshin facilitated Nobunaga's Tenka-fubu (a slogan meaning that the samurai rules the whole world).

Collapse of the government

By defeating the Takeda Clan in May 1582, the power of the Oda Clan became huge with its territory ranging from the Kinai region (except Kii Province) through the Chubu region (except Echigo Province) to the east and the eastern part of the Chugoku region and a part of Shikoku in the west. The Oda government was at its peak around that time. The Otomo clan in Kyushu, the Gohojo clan in Kanto, and the Date clan in Tohoku also signaled their allegiance, so the Oda Government was expected to unify the whole country if things went well.

However, on July 1st of the same year, Nobunaga killed himself at Honno-ji Temple during the rebellion raised by his vassal, Mitsuhide AKECHI (Honnoji Incident). Nobunaga's legitimate son, Nobutada ODA also killed himself at the Nijo-jo Castle, thus there was no one left in the Oda clan who could run the government. Ultimately, at this point in time, the Oda government collapsed completely.

After which, Hidenobu ODA, the legitimate grandson of Nobunaga, took over as head of the family, but he was just a puppet of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and due to the results of the Kiyosu conference, Nobunaga's former territories were all divided and succeeded by his vassals, so the Oda clan itself fell from power and was reduced to the status of an ordinary daimyo.

Governmental system

The Oda government extended its power in such a short period of just 10 years, beginning with his going to Kyoto and the establishment of the Oda government and ending with his death. This is partly because the foundation for the government was firmly established.

The economic policy, Rakuichi-rakuza (Free markets and open guilds) made it possible to hire many pursuers of military service, therefore, the long-term dispatch of a large army was doable even during the busy farming season. Therefore, unlike existing powers (Takeda clan, Uesugi clan etc.), they were able to take political or military actions autocratically with no need to consider the wishes of the many local or provincial samurai who formed the army. With such a standing army at its core, their actions were always swift and overwhelming. However, recent studies have revealed that other Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period) also adopted these policies independently. Nobunaga successfully carried out these policies in large scale earlier than the others. The main factor for this is that he succeeded in bringing the productive Nobi Plain under a unified rule.

He succeeded in maintaining this system by adopting a monetary economy and commodity markets which gradually developed after the mid-Kamakura period; this success also gave rise to many imitators and followers such as Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and Ujisato GAMO.

Nobunaga adopted an army system which enabled him to react in multiple regions simultaneously and operated it in a large scale.

Hokuriku region: Katsuie SHIBATA was appointed as commander in chief of the region, and Toshiie MAEDA and Narimasa SASSA were assigned as yoriki (mounted warrior belonging to a general in the Sengoku period).

Chugoku region: Hideyoshi HASHIBA was appointed as commander in chief of the region, and Yoshikata KURODA and Masakatsu HACHISUKA were assigned as yoriki.

Kinai region: Mitsuhide AKECHI was appointed as commander in chief on the region, and Fujitaka HOSOKAWA and his son, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, and Junkei TSUTSUI were assigned as yoriki.

Kanto region: Kazumasu TAKIGAWA was appointed as commander in chief of the region, and Nagayoshi MORI and Hidetaka KAWAJIRI were assigned as yoriki.

Shikoku region: Nobutaka ODA, the third son of Nobunaga, was appointed as commander in chief of the region, and Nagahide NIWA and Yoritaka HACHIYA were assigned as yoriki.

While Nobunaga was alive, these regional armies worked well and won battle after battle in various places and contributed to the Oda government successfully extending their territory over a short period of time. However, the military capability of such commanders as Katsuie SHIBATA, Hideyoshi HASHIBA and Mitsuhide AKECHI was much larger than that of an ordinary daimyo, and therefore, if a commander in chief plotted a rebellion, it was easy to carry out. As clearly shown by the fact that Nobunaga was raided by Mitsuhide AKECHI at Honno-ji Temple, Nobunaga gave too much military force to his vassals. Therefore, it is safe to say that Nobunaga's regional army system was a failure, because it enabled him to extend his power but dug his own grave as well.

On the other hand, according to a different view, the collapse of the Oda government was mainly caused by the death of Nobutada ODA, not by a structural problem within the government. That is to say, Nobukatsu had already handed over the headship of the family to Nobutada before the Honno-ji Incident, and he reined over such 'daimyo (selected by Nobunaga)' as Oda, Shibata, Akechi, Hashiba, (Nobutaka) KANBE, and (Nobuo) KITABATAKE. Therefore, there was no problem with the organization and it was actually rational that his vassals, such as Shibata and Akechi, had larger military forces than that of such daimyo as Mori and Uesugi who did not serve under Nobunaga. In other words, the Oda clan was already not under Nobunaga's direct control, therefore, if Nobunaga himself had a huge military force, it would have had a harmful influence on the organization (It was acceptable that Nobutada had a large military force). Under the system, the Oda clan was supposed to be able to stay in power as long as the head of Oda clan having the largest military force survived, even if Nobunaga was killed in a rebellion raised by his vassals. According to one theory, therefore, the main reason for the fall of the government was the death of the successor.

Another theory suggests that the Oda government collapsed because Nobunaga adopted a system of radical meritocracy, which allowed Hideyoshi HASHIBA to usurp the position of the Oda clan after Nobunaga's death. Some believe that, in order to avoid making the same mistake, the Tokugawa shogunate restored the old feudal system under which loyalty, family lineage and fudai daimyo (hereditary vassals) were more important than the ability to maintain the regime.

Nobunaga placed importance on the rule of Kyoto, and appointed Sadakatsu MURAI as the Kyoto shoshidai (The Kyoto deputy) for negotiation and surveillance. Sadakatsu, living up to Nobunaga's expectation, governed Kyoto without any serious mistakes while Nobunaga was alive.

[Original Japanese]