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Additional info for The New Yorker (March 21 2016)
42 Its identification at such an early stage of Japanese history is testimony to the depth of such a tradition. The ranks and titles given to those local kings and chiefs incorporated into the Yamato camp were important in a status-conscious age. 43 This too is a continuing characteristic of Japanese preferences. Exact dates remain unclear. It is probable that during the fourth and fifth centuries Yamato authority was not absolute but rather ‘first among equals’ among a coalition of clans. By the early sixth century, however, the Yamato imperial family seems to have emerged as the single prevailing line.
This led him to suspect the worst even of close friends and family, and to take decisive steps against them. His treatment of his younger half-brother Yoshitsune is a good example. Fuelled by jealousy over Yoshitsune’s popularity and widely acknowledged military prowess,40 and suspecting him of plotting, Yoritomo gave orders for Yoshitsune’s assassination. Finally, after four years as a fugitive, in 1189 Yoshitsune was surrounded by Yoritomo’s forces and killed himself, along with his wife and infant children.
It was from Korea – specifically priest-scholars from the Korean kingdom of Paekche – that Buddhism was introduced in the mid-sixth century. 46 The Soga saw Buddhism as a means of developing a state religion that would further their political control, which by means such as intermarriage they were starting to assert over the imperial family. 585–7) on. For its part, the imperial line also saw Buddhism as politically very useful. It provided a unifying ideology for the new nation. Its identification with the imperial family also meant that the spread of Buddhism helped spread acceptance of imperial authority.