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Oda Nobunaga

(1534-82). The prime mover of Japan's 16th century reunification after a hundred years of strife. The Sengoku period (1467-1568) ended and the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600) began with his advent to power. Rising from modest beginnings, Nobunaga subjected central Japan to one governing authority, with himself as the supreme hegemon. At the time of his violent death [see Honnji Incident], the realm united under his rule comprised over a third of the 16th century Japanese empire. The rigorous system of government he left behind was the foundation for the work of the other two of the "Three Heroes" of Japan's unification: his sometimes vassals Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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