Shimazu Yoshihiro(August 21, 1535 – August 30, 1619)

Yoshihiro was a brave and skilled general who contributed greatly to the unification of Kyushu. He fought well in the Korean Campaigns for Toyotomi Hideyoshi, defeating an army of 37,000 Ming warriors with just 7,000 samurai at the Battle of Sacheon in 1598.

Yoshihiro had later rescued and saved a number of Japanese commanders in the final battle on Korean soil, Noryang, despite having more than half his fleet of 500 ships destroyed or captured. During the sea battle, Yoshihiro’s warship was destroyed, and the general was found floating in the water clutching a piece of wood and rescued. About 150 Japanese ships then made it back to Pusan where they rescued Konishi Yukinaga, Kato Kiyomasa and other Japanese generals. Only 50 ships made it back to Japan.


At the Battle of Sekigahara, Shimazu Yoshihiro was planning on joining the Eastern forces under Tokugawa Ieyasu, but was rejected by Torii Mototada when he offered to assist in defending Fushimi Castle. Humiliated, he remained on the side of the Western forces under Ishida Mitsunari. Yoshihiro was further humiliated the day before the battle at Ogaki Castle, when his plan to launch a surprise night attack was outright rejected in front of the other generals. On the day of the battle, Yoshihiro and his 1,500 troops, and the 750 samurai under his nephew, Toyohisa, refused to enter the fight. At the end of the battle, Yoshihiro found himself surrounded by over 30,000 Eastern troops, and so made his exit right through the middle of them all, making good his escape to Satsuma.


Understanding why and how Yoshihiro behaved on the battlefield, Ieyasu allowed the Shimazu clan to retain its domain providing Yoshihiro’s son Shimazu Tadatsune succeeded him. Yoshihiro retired to Sakurajima and took up teaching. He died 9 days after turning 84 years old in 1619.

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