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Who started the unification of Japan during the Sengoku Era?

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The person who is generally credited with beginning the successful unification of Japan during the Sengoku Era is Oda Nobunaga.  Oda was not able to actually complete the process of unifying Japan, but he was the one who started the process, which was later finished by his successors.

During the Sengoku Era, Japan was patchwork of areas controlled by different rulers.  Most of the power was held by the daimyo of the various provinces.  Buddhist monasteries also held considerable political, economic, and even military power in some areas.  Oda used diplomacy and force to begin the process of reducing the power of the daimyo and the monasteries.  For this reason, he is credited with beginning the unification of Japan.

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