What was particularly difficult to comprehend was the editorial of the Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday (J) calling for a revision to the Kono Statement given that the content of the Statement doesn't reflect historical reality, i.e., since there is no documented evidence that Korean women were forced into sexual servitude, there is no need for any sort of apology. The malicious nature of this argument also beggers belief, for what it essentially says is that the testimonies of Korean, Chinese, and Southeast Asian men, women and children detailing the abuse suffered at the hands of Imperial forces matter not a whit, while also belittling the efforts of previous Japanese administrations to at least try to reach an understanding with Japan's neighbours over its wartime activities. It just provides more ammunition to anti-Japanese sentiment at a time when Japan is trying to build ties with regional states. If the intent of the editorial was to act as a warning to Japan's neighbours not to push it too far on questions of historical culpability, then its effect will be the exact opposite. As such, if the Yomiuri Shimbun wants to use its editorial as a megaphone for a stronger stance on territorial issues, there are more constructive ways of doing this than making provocative statements that simply feed into deep seated resentments.
In the meantime, the post that I wanted to make today concerns another Yomiuri article that came out earlier in the week (J), with a few interesting theories in relation to the lineage of Toyotomi Hideyori and whether he actually was Toyotomi Hideyoshi's biological son. I'll translate some of the article and post it below to give readers an idea of what the arguments are.
""Toyotomi Hideyori was an illegitimate child...", claims a Kyushu University professor.
Toyotomi Hideyori (1593-1615) was not Hideyoshi's biological son - although this claim is often made within the world of fiction and myth, Kyushu University Professor Hattori Hideo (an expert in medieval Japanese history) has used the theme of undocumented historical events (events in which no solid proof exists) as a topic for his latest work "Kawara no Mono, Hinin, Hideyoshi" (河原ノ者・非人・秀吉 - vagrants, castaways, and Hideyoshi). His claim is that a new interpretation of the "Shukusei no Jiken" (The Purge Incident) at Osaka Castle proves that Hideyori was an illegitimate child.
Hideyoshi, in spite of having many wives, was not blessed with an abundance of children. His relationship with the concubine Chacha (Lady Yodo, or 淀殿), which he consumated when he was over 50 years old, was the only one that produced children - the prematurely born Tsurumatsu, followed by Hideyori.
From the early Edo period theories abounded that Hideyori's father was Ono Harunaga, a retainer of the Toyotomi household who sacrificed both Hideyori and his mother in the final stages of the Battle of Osaka (1615). The "illegitimate child" theory was explored by novelists Shiba Ryotaro and Endo Shusaku, yet these did not leave the realm of speculation and fantasy.
It was at this stage that Professor Hattori, after calculating backwards from Hideyori's birthday on the 3rd day of the 8th month of Bunroku 2 (1593), examined whether Hideyoshi and Chacha could have shared the same bed on or around the 4th of the 11th month of the previous year, Tensho 20. On the 1st day of the 10th month of Tensho 20, Hideyoshi, in order to prepare to embark troops to the Korean peninsula, departed Osaka Castle for his base at Nagoya (名護屋, located in present day Saga prefecture in Kyushu), where he remained until the 8th month of the following year. In order for Hideyoshi's son to be born at the recorded time, Chacha would have had to accompany him to Kyushu.
The evidence that has been used to back Chacha's presence is a diary entry written by Hiratsuka Takisuke who was attached to the embarkation army assembled at Nagoya. In his diary Hiratsuka wrote..."Chacha appears to have accompanied (Hideyoshi)". Yet upon re-examining many other historical records from the same time, none of them specifically mention Chacha's presence at Nagoya. What is clear is that Hideyoshi was accompanied by one of his concubines, Kyogoku Tatsuko, hence Professor Hattori theorizes that "Hiratsuka's diary mistook Tatsuko for Chacha."
On the 22nd day of the 5th month of Bunroku 2, while Chacha was still pregnant, Hideyoshi sent a letter to his wife, Kita no Mandokoro, in which he wrote..." The Taiko's (Hideyoshi's) only child is Tsurumatsu. The child that shall be born to Chacha is her's alone." This passage has previously been interpreted as Hideyoshi attempting to hide his pleasure at being able to avoid his wife, yet this appears to be an opaque sort of reasoning. Professor Hattori has instead supposed that the passage indicates that..."Both Hideyoshi and Kita no Mandokoro had noticed how unnatural the pregnancy was."
Moreover, in the 10th month of Bunroku 2, just after Hideyori was born, a large number of Hideyoshi's female household attendants and the monk Shomoji (唱門師, a religious artist) were either punished or expelled from Osaka on Hideyoshi's orders. According to the aristocratic diary, the "Tokiyoshi-ki" (時慶記), within Osaka Castle a problem arose concerning "illicit relations between men and women", and that Shomoji had been banished for the crime of "receiving large quantities of gold and silver", while the women were "punished." The Jesuit missionary Luis Frois was in Japan at the time, and he noted that both the female attendants and upwards of 30 monks had been punished.
Professor Hattori notes that this punishment was not metered out for a simple breakdown in morals, but was done because Chacha and other female attendants had bestowed "gold and silver" upon Shomoji and the monks in celebration of their having conceived children. The practice of Sanro (参籠), whereby a person would spend a night in either a temple or shrine in order to pray for a successful pregnancy was, according to common practices in the pre-modern period, an opportunity for sexual relations between men and women, hence the "celebration" may have in fact been referring to a sexual relation between a monk and Chacha. Hideyoshi, after returning to Osaka, "must have found out about the circumstances surrounding Chacha's pregnancy and been absolutely furious."
If this is so, why did Hideyoshi then forgive Chacha and acknowledge Hideyori as his legitimate son? Professor Hattori writes that..."Chacha was the niece of Hideyoshi's former master, Oda Nobunaga. For Hideyoshi, who had seized the inheritance of the Oda household, any child born to Chacha would have been a blessing as it would aid in legitimising his position."
Up until this point, academia, when exploring the legitimacy of Hideyori as Hideyoshi's heir, have not paid a great deal of attention to blood ties. However Professor Hattori's book is expected to have a significant influence on historical interpretation of Hideyori's legitimacy. Established theories that Hideyori's birth led to the dis-inheritance and eventual suicide of Hideyoshi's successor, the Kanpaku Hidetsugu, and that the reason that so many of Hideyoshi's former retainers joined the eastern army (the army of Tokugawa Ieyasu) at the Battle of Sekigahara (1600) was because of questions surrounding the legitimacy of Hideyori's birth, will definitely need to be reviewed. (Ikeda Kazumasa, Culture and Lifestyle Section, Western Bureau)