The resentment that formed between Emperor Sushun and the influential Soga clan leader Soga no Umako resulted in the assassination of the emperor in 593 AD. Although Sushun and his brothers who ruled before him belonged to the Soga clan, it was their uncle, Soga no Umako, who held the strings of power in the land. Sushun’s death left the throne vacant with only the former emperors’ half-sister Suiko (who also happened to be former emperor Bidatsu’s empress-consort) fit to rule. For Soga no Umako, she was perfect. These events led to Shotoku compiling Japanese history around the 6th century AD according to the Bible Timeline Poster with World History.
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Suiko acceded the throne in 593 AD and Soga no Umako also appointed Shotoku Taishi, the son of the former Emperor Yomei, as regent in the same year. The prince was one of the leading Buddhists among the Japanese nobility during the Asuka period and staunchly opposed Shintoism that was supported by the rival Mononobe clan. It seemed that Soga no Umako’s choice of coregent was a good one as Shotoku was an excellent administrator who helped Suiko maintain good diplomatic relations with Japan’s neighbors with his excellent foreign policies.
He established the Twelve Cap and Rank System in 603/4 AD wherein government officials were appointed not because they were born from a noble family, but promoted based on their virtues and merits. It was patterned after the Chinese-style government ranking wherein officials belonged to twelve levels named after virtues (sincerity, benevolence, justice), and distinguished by the color of the cap they wore (purple, yellow, white, blue). He also issued the Jushichijo no Kempo or Seventeen-Article Constitution in 604 AD. One of his greatest legacies was his compilation of the lives of the former emperors and early Japanese history (it was said that his compilation was later included in the Kojiki chronicle).
Picture By Unknown – Japanese Painting Anthlogy, ed.et publ. by SINBI-SHOIN, TOKYO, 1941, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2584076
Brown, Delmer Myers. The Cambridge History of Japan. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Louis-Frédéric, and Käthe Roth. Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.
“Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697/Book XIX.” – Wikisource, the Free Online Library. Accessed August 09, 2016. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Nihongi:_Chronicles_of_Japan_from_the_Earliest_Times_to_A.D._697/Book_XIX.
“The Creed of Half Japan: Chapter XVIII. The Crown Prince Shōtoku Taishi.” The Creed of Half Japan: Chapter XVIII. The Crown Prince Shōtoku Taishi. Accessed August 09, 2016. http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/chj/chj20.htm.
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