empress of Japan: 592-628 C.E.
Place in history:
• first reigning empress of Japan in recorded history
• expansion of Buddhism in Japan, increasing Chinese influence in Japan
• daughter of Emperor Kimmei, empress consort of Emperor Bidatsu, sister of Emperor Sujun (or Sushu)
Suiko was the daughter of Emperor Kimmei and at 18 became the empress-consort of Emperor Bidatsu, who reigned 572-585. Suiko's brother, Emperor Sujun or Sushu, reigned next, but was murdered. Suiko was convinced to take the throne, with the son of another chieftain acting as regent who actually administered government. Suiko reigned as Empress for 30 years. Crown Prince Shotoku was regent or prime minister for 30 years.
Empress Suiko is credited with ordering the promotion of Buddhism beginning in 594. During her reign, Buddhism became firmly established; the second article of the 17 article constitution instituted under her reign promoted Buddhist worship, and she sponsored Buddhist temples and monasteries.
It was also during Suiko's reign that China first diplomatically recognized Japan, and Chinese influence increased. That Buddhism had entered Japan through Korea and Buddhism's growing influence furthered the influence of Korea on art and culture during this period.
There is general consensus that the 17 article constitution was not actually written in its present form until after the death of Prince Shotoku, though the reforms it describes were undoubtedly established beginning under the reign of Empress Suiko and the administration of Prince Shotoku.