Though Hideyoshi came from a peasant family and rose to prominence through his military successes, he exhibited remarkable organizational abilities. Building on the military victories of Oda Nobunaga, he managed to consolidate all of the Japanese daimyo under a centralized administration and end centuries of strife. He conducted a census and a survey of all the lands and resources, and eliminated the threat of peasant uprisings by confiscating swords and allowing only the samurai to carry weapons.
During the first half of his life, Hideyoshi’s rise to success was unparalleled; his courage and his brilliant strategies brought him one victory after another. Many historians agree, however, that in his later life he undermined his own success by committing unexplicable acts of cruelty and that his decision to attempt the conquest of China was foolish and irrational. The forced suicides of Sen no Rikyu and of his chosen heir, Hidetsugu, and the murder of 31 women plus some children in Hidetsugu’s family were examples of his unnecessary cruelty. The attacks on Korea and China could never have succeeded, and they exhausted the nation’s resources and alienated many of Hideyoshi’s loyal supporters. To this day, Koreans continue to harbor resentment against Japan for these invasions. In the end, Hideyoshi left his young son and heir alone and dependent on Tokugawa Ieyasu for protection.
Unification Aspects is designed to relate the subject of this article to Unification Thought and to aid teachers and researchers who wish to further pursue these topics from a unification perspective.