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Empress Suiko (554-628) reigned from 593-628 and was the 33rd imperial ruler of Japan. She was the third daughter of Emperor Kimmei and Princess Kitashi, from the powerful Soga family. When her half brother Bidatsu became emperor in 572 she became his empress. During a power struggle between the Soga family and Mononobe family, her uncle Soga no Umako oversaw a plot which lead to the death of the emperor Sushun (another of Suiko's half brothers) in 592 and which ended in the selection of Suiko as empress. Her appointment can been seen as a political move by Soga no Umako, as he was her uncle.

In 593 Empress Suiko appointed Prince Shotoku, second son of the previous Emperor Yomei and ally of Soga no Umako, as her regent and delegated all her authority to him. Shotoku established the twelve-rank system of court ranks which would stand until being replaced by the thirteen-rank system in 646. He also established diplomatic relations with the Sui dynasty in China, wrote the Seventeen-Article Constitution to strengthen the power of the emperor, and heavily promoted Buddhism as an institution, using imperial funding to construct a number of temples.

     Sovereign            Birth and death          Reign dates
29 Emperor Kimmei         509-571                  531 or 539 to 571
30 Emperor Bidatsu        538-585                  572-585
31 Emperor Yomei          ?-587                    585-587
32 Emperor Sushun         ?-592                    587-592
33 Empress Suiko          554-628                  593-628
34 Emperor Jomei          593-641                  629-641

Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd., 1993.

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