Murray State University

Poster Title

Odu Nobunaga’s Response to Militant Buddhism Turns Genocidal

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

This project studies a very important figure in Japanese history: Oda Nobunaga (1530s1580s). Nobunaga was a military genius and powerful member of the land owning class, who succeeded in unifying one third of Japan under his power. Aspects of Nobunaga's career that are usually discussed are his military exploits, and his consolidation of power through the loyalty oaths of other land owners. However, I am studying a seldom explored topic: Nobunaga's relationship with Buddhists in Japan. I am concentrating particularly on Nobunaga’s devastating campaigns against militant Buddhist groups such as the Ikko-Ikki. Nobunaga saw these Buddhists as detrimental to consolidation of power, and on several occasions called for their complete destruction or genocide. Though Nobunaga’s persecutions are seldom referred to as genocide, the actions he took against this religious sect may well fit within the borders of the United Nations’ definition. A big part of what determines if something is considered genocide depends on the intentions of those involved. By looking at sources from the time period, I want to figure out what Nobunaga’s actual aims were. My research primarily focused mostly on primary documents on Buddhism, the Ikko-Ikki, the Sengoku Period (1500s) and Nobunaga, in an attempt to shed some light on why Nobunaga felt the need to take action against Buddhists in his domains, and whether or not these actions are truly considered genocidal.

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Odu Nobunaga’s Response to Militant Buddhism Turns Genocidal

This project studies a very important figure in Japanese history: Oda Nobunaga (1530s1580s). Nobunaga was a military genius and powerful member of the land owning class, who succeeded in unifying one third of Japan under his power. Aspects of Nobunaga's career that are usually discussed are his military exploits, and his consolidation of power through the loyalty oaths of other land owners. However, I am studying a seldom explored topic: Nobunaga's relationship with Buddhists in Japan. I am concentrating particularly on Nobunaga’s devastating campaigns against militant Buddhist groups such as the Ikko-Ikki. Nobunaga saw these Buddhists as detrimental to consolidation of power, and on several occasions called for their complete destruction or genocide. Though Nobunaga’s persecutions are seldom referred to as genocide, the actions he took against this religious sect may well fit within the borders of the United Nations’ definition. A big part of what determines if something is considered genocide depends on the intentions of those involved. By looking at sources from the time period, I want to figure out what Nobunaga’s actual aims were. My research primarily focused mostly on primary documents on Buddhism, the Ikko-Ikki, the Sengoku Period (1500s) and Nobunaga, in an attempt to shed some light on why Nobunaga felt the need to take action against Buddhists in his domains, and whether or not these actions are truly considered genocidal.