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Junnin, "pure benevolence," (733-765) was the 47th Emperor of Japan, according to the official chronology, reigning from 758 to 764. For much of his brief life, Junnin was a pawn of his domineering cousin the Empress Koken, who went against the will of Retired Emperor Shomu to make him her crown prince over Imperial Prince Funado, whom Shomu had favored, because she knew that Junnin was weak-minded and easy to control.

Junnin ascended to the throne in 758 when Koken was pressured into abdication by a cabal of court nobles led by Fujiwara Nakamaro, but to the nobles' dissatisfaction, Koken maintained de facto rule of the country via her complete control over the pliable Junnin.

Meanwhile, Koken began to grant high court offices to a disreputable Buddhist monk named Dokyo. Finally an incensed Nakamaro raised arms against Koken, only to be crushed by an army of Dokyo's fanatical followers. Koken then deposed Junnin, in whose name Nakamaro's army had been raised, and reassumed the throne as Empress Shotoku. The unfortunate Junnin, now officially a traitor, was hustled off into exile in 764 and quietly assassinated the following year.

For years the misogynistic Japanese, peeved by Junnin's kowtowing to a mere woman, refused to include him in the official list of Emperors, even though he had officially reigned for six years. Many older documents simply refer to him as haitei - "the deposed sovereign." It was not until 1870 that he was finally given the posthumous reign name "Junnin" and added to the official list.

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