Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (2021) s01e05 Episode Script


1 [dramatic music playing.]
[opening theme plays.]
[dramatic music playing.]
After more than a century of civil war, Toyotomi Hideyoshi has united Japan.
His rivals have either sworn their allegiance, or they have been destroyed.
Despite this fledgling peace, Hideyoshi now dreams of a bold and outlandish plan to make himself the most powerful man in Asia.
[Michael Auslin.]
Japan had been at war for so long.
By this time, we're talking about several generations that only knew warfare.
The rivers of Japan ran red with blood.
Fields were covered in lakes of blood.
And Hideyoshi was the one who ended this nightmare for Japan.
He'd unified the country, he had ended the civil war, he had created what seemed to be a stable political equilibrium, but you have a society filled with samurai and filled with daimyo, who know nothing but war.
The question was, "What do I do with this enormous military machine now that it has nothing to do?" And, so, this concern, I think, feeds into an increasingly runaway ego.
I mean, again, this is a man who came up from nothing and got to the pinnacle of power in Japan… and he, I think, thinks he can do no wrong.
[dramatic music playing.]
And so he conceives of a proposition of conquering China.
China was, for the Japanese, sort of the touchstone of civilization.
It represented the center of the world, and had traditionally always looked down on the Japanese, so if you conquered China, you'd be the greatest warlord in history.
[in Japanese.]
Prepare the men.
I think, in a lot of ways, actually, his invasion of China is the ultimate act of self-regard, in the same way we sometimes think of Napoleon Bonaparte or Alexander the Great, building empires out of a desire to etch their name in the records of history.
This is his chance to be the man who not only reunified Japan, but who carries his battle standard all the way across the sea.
Quite a lot of people were opposed to Hideyoshi's plans to invade China.
And one of those was his wife, Nene.
She was extremely intelligent, very insightful, pretty strong-minded, and she was the most important person in Hideyoshi's life.
He involved Nene in every single decision he was making.
She pushes back against this idea of an invasion.
"It's too difficult.
It's too likely that, if it fails, everything we've built in Japan will come crashing down.
" [Kitagawa.]
Nene foresaw the catastrophe to come because of this invasion.
She was alarmed and she tried her hardest to stop Hideyoshi.
[dramatic music playing.]
No matter what Nene said, Hideyoshi was absolutely determined to go ahead with his plans.
No one was able to stop Hideyoshi.
Hideyoshi realizes that in order to get to China, he's gonna have to march through Korea.
It's an enormous logistical nightmare for Japan to get these men over there, to feed them, to arm them, to maintain them, to set up the headquarters to begin this march up the Korean peninsula in order, ultimately, to defeat China.
So he writes to Korea and asks for passage through their country.
[Nathan Ledbetter.]
The lead negotiator on the Japanese side is Konishi Yukinaga.
He is authorized by Hideyoshi to present Hideyoshi's demands.
For centuries, Korea and Japan had had terrible relations.
The Japanese had actually invaded Korea hundreds of years before.
This is not forgotten.
[suspenseful music playing.]
[in Japanese.]
They dare defy me! The Koreans won't allow Hideyoshi to walk through their country to China.
In part, this was because of the close ties Korea had had with China, and they were a buffer state between Japan and China.
[in Japanese.]
This is not acceptable.
Get out! [yells.]
In Hideyoshi's mind, this meant he had to first subjugate the Koreans and punish them for their hubris in responding to him that way… …and then, move on to taking China.
[in Japanese.]
Enough! Get out! [Auslin.]
Undertaking the invasion of Korea was the most technically complex military operation in history up until that time.
Hideyoshi is going to rely on the daimyo in the west because they're closest to Korea, so they can mass their troops and they can get over there more quickly.
The daimyo of the west are warriors.
They're men of battle, and the idea of conquering a hated traditional enemy, of extending their influence in the continent, of getting their hands on foreign trade, is, for the daimyo, as irresistible as it is for Hideyoshi.
So, he orders, in 1592, one of the largest invasions ever seen in the world up until that point in time… of about 200,000 men.
It's done on a scale that the world doesn't witness again until the D-Day invasion.
But Hideyoshi has completely underestimated how difficult this campaign will be.
April 13th, 1592, Toyotomi Hideyoshi's first invasion force sets sail from the island of Tsushima, across the Korea Strait.
They land at the southern port of Busan, overwhelming Korean defenses with sheer numbers.
The Japanese forces then march inland, quickly taking the key cities of Seoul and Pyongyang, before moving towards the border with China.
- [woman whimpering.]
- [people wailing.]
[woman whimpers.]
Remember, the Japanese were coming off 150 years of continuous warfare.
Really, war is what they did.
[man groaning.]
- [women crying.]
- [man groans.]
[woman panting.]
- [grunts.]
- [woman groans.]
Hideyoshi's forces unleash really tremendous violence on the peninsula.
When they take garrisons, they will often massacre defending troops who surrendered.
They'll attack civilians, pretty much without regard for any distinction between civilian and soldier.
The Korean campaign so far had been one of almost unprecedented cruelty.
The Japanese carried out terrible atrocities in terms of rape, slaughter, pillage and slave-taking.
Against this sickening tide of violence, rebellions began in almost every province when loyal Koreans rose up to try and drive back these cruel invaders.
[thunder rumbling, wind whistling.]
Regular Koreans, farmers, monks, regular people, organized into what became known as Righteous Armies.
Essentially, these are small guerrilla forces.
The most famous Korean guerrilla leader was a general called Gwak Jae-u.
Soon after the Japanese had landed in Busan, Gwak raised his first army.
He was a very rich man and is known to have sold many of his possessions in order to buy arms for his Righteous Warriors.
He has become a considerably legendary figure in Korea.
Supposedly, his red coat was dyed in the menstrual blood of virgins, so that it provided magical protection against enemies.
[speaks in Korean.]
[bird squawking.]
Gwak's main objective was to attack and break the Japanese supply lines.
The supply lines were a major element of weakness for the Japanese, because they had to be reinforced from Japan itself, and then any supplies transported the length of Korea, where they were vulnerable to guerrilla attack.
[army marching.]
One of the first major guerrilla attacks was against a Japanese emplacement near the Nam River.
Spies had spotted that the Japanese had placed wooden stakes in the river so that their men knew where it was safe to cross.
It was a wonderful opportunity for a surprise attack.
When the Japanese began to ford the river, their heavy armor weighed them down.
Normally, the Koreans would be at a large disadvantage.
The Japanese troops are experienced, most of them have some kind of armor, better-made weapons, but none of that matters if you're trying to fight in the water.
And it's that moment that the Righteous Armies spring the trap.
[shouts orders in Korean.]
[men shouting.]
- [groans.]
- [arquebuses firing.]
The Koreans launched volleys of bullets and hails of arrows against the Japanese.
[dramatic music playing.]
The Japanese were totally helpless.
[men shouting.]
It was then a complete massacre… [screams.]
[ominous music playing.]
…as the dead Japanese were washed downstream.
The battle across the Nam River was the first Korean victory on land of the war.
It's a crushing victory for the Righteous Armies.
And it proves, crucially, the Japanese can lose on land.
It gave them huge confidence that they would be able to resist the Japanese invaders and drive them back.
[thunder rumbling.]
Inspired by the Righteous Armies, ordinary people in their farm houses rose up against the occupying Japanese.
This was full-scale guerrilla conflict.
- [people shouting.]
- Night attacks, arson attacks on camps, everything they could lay their hands on in terms of military ingenuity.
- [arquebus fires.]
- [groans.]
They harass, and then retreat.
They try and make the Japanese advance hell.
Make it as hard as possible for the Japanese to take more territory and hold on to what they already have.
Before long, Japanese supply lines, river boats, were under constant attack.
Communication between the armies, movement of supplies was hindered, and the scale, the relentless nature of these attacks by the Righteous Armies, began to decimate the morale of Hideyoshi's invasion force - and badly hinder their progress.
- [screams.]
You know, the western daimyos have been bled dry by the war in Korea.
They're down to 50,000.
So, they've lost two-thirds of their fighting force.
As the war progresses, China's Ming Dynasty sends 50,000 troops to Korea to thwart the Japanese advance.
Despite a number of epic battles, this only creates a stalemate as all sides battle for ground.
[arquebuses fire.]
In Japan, Hideyoshi issues erratic orders to push forward into China, but his commanders in Korea cannot advance… yet they dare not defy their master.
[suspenseful music playing.]
When reporting back to Japan, Hideyoshi's generals always tried to place a positive spin on what was happening in Korea.
[Horikoshi speaking Japanese.]
Hideyoshi was a total dictator, so making him angry could have meant your life was at risk.
Therefore his vassals didn't report bad news, but reported only good news, so Hideyoshi became out of touch with the war situation in Korea.
Any reports of bad news or of desire to withdraw, Hideyoshi really just rejects, which means that he is not really well attuned to what is going on.
He's really not understanding the scale of this disaster.
In fact, there's actually evidence to suggest that Hideyoshi thought he was winning in Korea.
Just as his attention is required to deal with the Korean campaign, Hideyoshi is becoming increasingly distracted and obsessed with another problem.
The fact that Hideyoshi does not have an heir weighs very heavily on his mind.
His wife's childless, and he had great dreams of forming, essentially, a new dynasty in Japan, one that would be the Toyotomi family carrying on through the generations.
Hideyoshi had succeeded at inventing a past for himself, but there was just no amount of invention that would get around the problem that he didn't have successors.
And without successors, in a sense, all of his legacy would come undone, and he was aware of the fact that it would come undone.
At this point, Nene was too old to give birth to any children.
At the same time, Hideyoshi had, like, hundreds of concubines in Osaka.
One of them could give birth to his children.
And, then, that person, a son, could be a successor of Hideyoshi.
[wind whistling.]
Concubines tended to be from very high-level families.
They were all daughters of daimyo, they were of noble blood.
I think the key difference between a concubine and a wife would be that you could probably, to some extent, choose your concubines.
You probably wouldn't choose your wife.
It would be an arranged marriage.
Lady Chacha was Hideyoshi's favorite concubine.
She was actually the niece of Oda Nobunaga.
She was very famously beautiful.
She was also a bit of a prima donna.
She was a very proud woman.
She was very imperious, so she was quite a contrast to Nene, who was a down-to-earth, rather common-sense woman.
After so many years of not being able to produce a child, Chacha gives birth to a son, Tsurumatsu, and Hideyoshi is thrilled.
He wants to control Asia, and he needs a son to continue the Toyotomi line.
[weeping softly.]
Hideyoshi's son Tsurumatsu died.
He was crushed with grief.
Suddenly, the future of the family is once again thrown into doubt.
This clearly has an effect on Hideyoshi's mental status… because one of his favorite daughters has also recently died, and then his mother.
And this contributed to generating a sense of crisis for Hideyoshi, a sense that all of his most important efforts were failing at the moment of greatest need.
And it is possible that this also contributed to what people saw as a progressive loss of his mental acuity.
With each and every day… Hideyoshi's actions became more erratic and more disturbing.
Everybody was able to see the changes and he, himself, could not put himself together.
Rumor had it that Hideyoshi also contracted syphilis from one of his concubines, and then that made his behavior even more irrational.
Hideyoshi literally became mad.
[Hideyoshi chuckles.]
[woman gasps.]
He increasingly sees himself as isolated and fears that he's going to be a failure, that his family will disappear when he dies.
After his infant son died, Hideyoshi was left without an heir.
While the Korean war - was still continuing… - [belches.]
Hideyoshi made a dramatic decision.
He named his nephew, Hidetsugu, as his successor.
[dramatic music playing.]
Hidetsugu was a very unsavory character.
He was addicted to pleasures of the flesh.
- He was brutal and violent.
- [crying.]
[arquebus fires.]
- [woman groans.]
- Sometimes just shoot peasants at will.
He was seen as an unworthy successor, but Hideyoshi had no choice.
Hidetsugu was the only legitimate heir within his own family.
But a surprise was in store for Hideyoshi.
[baby crying.]
Only about six months later, Hideyoshi's favorite concubine, Lady Chacha, then gave birth to a son, a boy called Hideyori.
Hideyoshi now had a major succession dispute between the unstable Hidetsugu, whom he had named, and the infant son, whom he really now wanted to be his heir.
- [dramatic music plays.]
- [bird shrieks.]
This was a very dangerous situation, so Hideyoshi determined to get rid of Hidetsugu by sending him into exile on Koyasan.
That could have done the trick, but rumors grew that Hidetsugu was planning a return, and indeed was considering a military coup against Hideyoshi.
That couldn't be allowed to happen.
[dramatic music playing.]
To secure the rights of his second son… Hidetsugu had to die.
[blade slashes.]
[dramatic music playing.]
Hideyoshi then rounds up 31 women and children, mainly Hidetsugu's closest family, marches them through Kyoto, and has them executed.
- [groans.]
- [bones break.]
It's so extreme that no one can believe it represents anything other than Hideyoshi beginning to lose his grip on reality.
One of the people implicated in the supposed plot of Hidetsugu to launch a coup and install himself in power was the One-Eyed Dragon himself.
Date Masamune and Hidetsugu were friendly.
They actually went hunting together somewhat regularly, and, as a result, Masamune is seen as a friend to Hidetsugu.
Hideyoshi is infuriated.
Masamune is a deeply ambitious man.
It's not beyond reason that he would've been willing to go behind Hideyoshi's back.
[suspenseful music playing.]
As a result, Masamune is brought before Hideyoshi and made to answer for his association with Hidetsugu.
[suspenseful music playing.]
The only thing that saves him is the intercession of a cooler head, one of the few people Hideyoshi still listens to.
Tokugawa Ieyasu speaks up, saying that there's no reason to doubt Masamune, that his loyalty is impeccable, and that, therefore, punishment is unnecessary.
"We should trust this man and his word.
" As a result, Masamune will feel himself profoundly indebted to Tokugawa Ieyasu… a debt that Ieyasu will call in later on.
Though Hideyoshi is paranoid, he agrees to spare Masamune on one condition.
Masamune must gather his forces and join the invasion of Korea, even if they're all destroyed.
Despite having great misgivings, Date Masamune, like other daimyo, does not dare defy Hideyoshi's orders to join the fight in Korea.
Doing so would bring certain death and shame.
Although reinforcements have been sent, Japanese forces are bogged down fighting an unwinnable war, lacking food and supplies and racked with illness and disease.
[arquebus fires.]
Unaware of the true nature of events on the ground, Hideyoshi continues to issue orders for his forces to advance.
[men talking indistinctly.]
The war in Korea was devastating.
It had cost tens of thousands of Japanese lives and untold hundreds of thousands of Korean lives.
As the disaster in Korea is unfolding, and they're receiving these increasingly bizarre orders back from Japan, it's clear that Hideyoshi is becoming more and more unstable, that he's unable to make clear, strategic decisions, that he believes he's winning when he's not.
And that, of course, is paralyzing for his generals, who don't have clear direction.
It makes a lot of his top commanders wonder about his mental stability and whether they'll ever return home alive.
There's a very desperate situation on the ground, and the commanders recognize this, and they recognize the need to begin opening up negotiations to try to reach a resolution.
For a long time during negotiations, Hideyoshi was not aware that the terms being put forth by the Chinese were not the ones that he wanted to hear.
Because of his deteriorating mind and the false reports that the generals had sent to him, Hideyoshi believed that he had won his campaign in Korea, and he now sought recognition for his triumph at the very highest level.
In other words, from the Ming Emperor of China.
At minimum, what Hideyoshi wants is a division of Korea.
He suggests Korea be divided into two spheres of influence, a southern sphere dominated by Japan and a northern one dominated by the Chinese.
This is the minimum he is willing to accept.
In addition, Hideyoshi wants the Emperor of China to dispatch one of his own daughters to Japan, to be taken as a concubine.
Konishi Yukinaga knew that this was mission impossible.
There was no way that the Ming emperor was going to give Hideyoshi the recognition that he thought he deserved.
What Hideyoshi wants is frankly insulting to the Chinese.
They refuse categorically to deal on these terms.
After all, he hadn't won a victory in Korea.
It had been an ignominious defeat.
Instead, they offer Augustin Konishi a different deal, one that he ultimately accepts.
When the Chinese envoys arrived in Kyoto, accompanied by Konishi and the other negotiators coming from Korea, they presented Hideyoshi with Chinese robes, and Hideyoshi was very pleased, because he thought this meant that they were offering their submission to him.
However, very quickly there's complete confusion.
First, these ambassadors refuse, because they're the ambassadors of the Emperor of China, to bow to Hideyoshi.
They expect him to bow to them.
He, of course, is not going to bow to anybody, and so there's a standoff between the two sides.
[suspenseful music playing.]
When they actually bring out the letter from the Emperor of China announcing these terms, "Hideyoshi, you are King of Japan.
I recognize you as such.
As my vassal" [in Japanese.]
What is the meaning of this? - What is the meaning of this, you idiot! - Calm down, my dear! [Hideyoshi groans.]
He realizes these crown and robes, they're not gifts.
They're markers of his submission, being given by the Emperor of China, to show "You are mine now.
" [in Japanese.]
How can I wear this? Get out! Get out of here! Get out! Hideyoshi is so humiliated and so angry, he orders a second invasion of Korea… [in Japanese.]
Out! …but this time his objectives are more limited.
It was instead a simple act of revenge.
[dramatic music playing.]
Hideyoshi forces over 100,000 more samurai to invade Korea in a punishing assault of death and destruction.
However, within months, Korean and Chinese soldiers once again halt the advance and drive Japanese forces back to their coastal garrisons.
At this point, many daimyo are up in arms.
They've lost huge amounts of men and treasure with nothing to show for it.
In the Sengoku period, it was always important for a ruler to reward his followers with lands and treasure, but the course of the war meant that there were actually no new lands in Korea or anything to be given to these daimyo for the long term.
So, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction among those daimyo who had gone to Korea.
[suspenseful music playing.]
So much so that quiet whispers in court began to circulate amongst powerful figures as to what should be done, what steps should be taken, and how he should disappear.
People began to talk openly of rebellion.
Hideyoshi is in an increasingly difficult position.
Physically, of course, he's more and more unwell.
It's getting harder and harder for him to leave his castle at Fushimi.
Before he dies… he knows he's dying.
He has to make sure Hideyori won't be deposed or murdered, as had happened for decades during the civil war.
[in Japanese.]
Please take care of him.
He makes an incredibly important strategic decision.
He decides to appoint a Council of Elders and have them swear to protect and watch over Hideyori until he becomes an adult and can take over his position as the leader of Japan.
The men he picks for this are the five most powerful leaders across Japan.
Some of them are people he has had a long relationship with, people he trusts.
Others are chosen primarily because of their power, not necessarily because Hideyoshi trusts or likes them.
But it's a gamble that in many ways I think he had to make.
Of the five regents, or the five councilors, the two most important are Tokugawa Ieyasu and Maeda Toshiie.
Maeda Toshiie will be stationed in Osaka Castle and will be the one responsible for raising young Hideyori, for managing his education, preparing him for the rigors of leading the country.
Tokugawa Ieyasu is, by this point, the most powerful daimyo in Japan, other than Hideyoshi, and so he's really given sort of ultimate authority.
He's basically put in charge of the entire government.
One might expect that a council would be brought together of individuals able to cooperate and effectively run a government.
However, it seems that this may not have been Hideyoshi's intent in this particular case.
He seems to have quite consciously selected daimyo who had competing interests with one another.
Therefore, perhaps ensuring that the members of the council could be counted upon to watch one another closely and make sure that no one did anything rash.
Trying to make sure that no member of the council became more powerful than the other four.
September 1598, after a lifetime of war, one of Japan's great unifiers, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, dies.
I think for few individuals can we really ever say, "This individual changed the course of history.
" And Hideyoshi is most definitely someone for whom that can be said.
His achievements were immense, probably the greatest ever by any Japanese leader in history.
He was the rare leader who was actually able to imagine something that was entirely unheard of.
He brought peace in a way that perhaps Nobunaga never dreamed of doing.
He had unified the country.
He had ended the civil war.
He had created what seemed to be a stable political equilibrium among the great daimyo.
But even more than that, his rise is an astonishing triumph over one's humble origins.
From a peasant and the lowest level of the samurai, to the undisputed leader of Japan.
When Hideyoshi dies, the Council of Five Elders does not initially make the announcement that the great lord, the great regent has passed.
Instead, they issue cease-fire orders in Hideyoshi's name and finish recalling Japan's forces from Korea.
In many ways, when Hideyoshi died, I suspect the daimyo breathed a sigh of relief.
The adventure in Korea had proven disastrous.
That being said, there was certainly enormous anxiety in the wake of his passing because he did not leave an adult heir, who could take over his mantle uncontested.
As Hideyoshi wished, the council officially declares young Hideyori the ruler of Japan, though, as a young child, he exercises no actual power.
In practice, power is now divided in a careful arrangement among the five elders.
This produces an enormously dangerous situation.
[suspenseful music playing.]
We have this delicate arrangement of power between five regents.
One that could, with any change in that balance, fall apart completely and create this deadly vacuum at the center.
No doubt most daimyo, the moment Hideyoshi died, started preparing for war.
After decades on the sidelines, Tokugawa Ieyasu is now ready to make his move.
[horse neighs.]
The wheels are now set in motion for a cataclysmic struggle for power.
[horse neighs.]
[closing theme plays.]

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