Mongol Fleet Begins Conquest of
by Jeff Provine
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On August 12th 1281,
after his first attempt for a naval invasion of Japan ended with a freak
storm (the "kamikaze"), Kublai Khan, ruler of China under the Yuan Dynasty
and Korea by means of the Goryeo, made a second invasion attempt.
Two combined fleets made the journey, the first of 900 ships in June and
the second of more than 3,500 ships later in the summer. The initial
invaders of June had struggled to make landfall at Hakata Bay, constantly
being beaten back by waves of Japanese samurai warriors. At night, the
samurai would sneak out in small boats to the fleet and raid, killing as
many as they could and setting fires before escaping back into the
Under such assault, the first fleet retreated to Tsushima Island between
Korea and Japan, there meeting with the larger fleet in July and preparing
for a full-scale invasion. Clouds seemed to build in the east, and sailors
feared another kamikaze, but generals pressed and Mongol-led armies made
landfall before a storm could strike. Another vicious battle began for the
beach with massive casualties on both sides. Out of sheer numbers, the
Mongol force was able to gain control, and Japan became broken. After
weathering two days of storms on the safety of land while watching their
ships be destroyed, the Mongols continued military conquest.
"Any particular basis for how post-conquest japan
evolved?" - reader's commentOver the next three years, the Mongols
worked to establish control of the Japanese islands. Forces were
continually supplied anew, crushing any rebellion and gradually wearing
away the image of the brave samurai. A puppet emperor was installed,
giving credence to the new cultural edicts put into motion by the Mongols
to strip Japan of its national identity. Over the next century, Japan
would become another arm of the Khanate.
In the 1360s, the House of Yuan crumbled from within over intrigue, and
Japan, Korea, and conquests in the south won their freedom. Civil war
would haunt Japan for the next several centuries, made worse by
manipulative Dutch traders selling firearms to any and all sides. The
weakened nation would eventually fall to Dutch warships and be declared a
colony in 1641, ruling out of Deshima. Colonial wars would divide Europe,
and Japan would be handed between the Dutch and British twice, first in
1781 and then again in 1811. After altercations because of trade routes,
the powers finally settled with the Dutch holding Java (excluding the
British in Singapore) and the British in Japan (excluding the Dutch at
"Any particular basis for how post-conquest japan
evolved?" - reader's commentDuring the Victorian era, the Japanese
grew attached to British culture and, most importantly, technology.
Canals, railroads, and factories grew up throughout Japan, and Kyoto was
often joked as being "more English than London". Japan would serve as an
important ally in World War One and again in World War Two against
Germany, supplying exceptionally dedicated troops that helped achieve
victory in Operation Sledgehammer over the course of 1942-43.
After the war, Britain's empire began to evolve into the looser
Commonwealth, and Japan won its independence. Seeing the bloodshed in
China with the Communist uprising, Japan remained staunchly capitalist and
served as one of the key players in the Korean Conflict, offering up even
more troops than the United States. The remainder of the twentieth century
would see Japan as one of the most significant economic and military
forces in the East, often causing harsh diplomatic difficulties with
neighboring communist China. Though there have been international efforts
continuously to keep the two apart, it is generally accepted that war will
break out between the two with millions of casualties.
says in reality, the kamikaze did strike before the Mongols could
establish a beachhead. Mimicking the first invasion, samurai kept the
Mongols and allies from making successful landings, then the storm struck.
Contemporaries estimate 9 percent survival rates for the ships and 80
percent loss of life, meaning more than 120,000 invaders met their ends
either by samurai blade or Divine Wind. Japan remained anti-foreigner for
centuries until the coming of Admiral Perry in 1853.
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