• Kyodo

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The board of education of Asuka, Nara Prefecture, said Thursday it has uncovered the ruins of a large building believed to be the residence of Soga no Umako, a major political figure in the late sixth to early seventh century.

The ruins are believed to be the main building of the residence of Umako, a powerful minister who served four emperors in the Yamato court during the so-called Asuka Period.

Umako, who sought to establish his family’s dominance through kinship ties with the Imperial family, cooperated with Prince Shotoku, a statesman of the period, to institute the 17-Article Constitution and compile historical chronologies to strengthen Imperial authority.

Collaborating with the prince, Umako initiated diplomatic relations with China’s Sui Dynasty (581-618) by dispatching envoys to China, and also promoted Buddhism.

He built Asukadera Temple, the nation’s first legitimate Buddhist temple. Umako died in 626; his date of birth is unknown.

The ruins were found buried about 200 meters west of the Ishibutai tomb in the village where Umako is believed to have been buried.

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