Japan's history has been deeply marked by reforms adopted during AD 587 and after the Meiji Restoration of 1868. This chapter explains three political upheavals within Japan. First, the Soga seizure of control over state affairs in 587 ushered in what has been called the Asuka enlightenment. Second is the coup of 645 followed by the adoption of the Great Reforms. Third is the civil war of 672 after which new leaders were remarkably successful in making Japan a strong and despotic state. The chapter examines how the rise of this new Chinese empire affected Japan's channels of contact with the continent, and considers the political and cultural history of these early years of Japan's century of reform. Scheduling the enthronement ceremony in 668, after a new imperial palace had been built and occupied, was probably considered useful for affirming and sanctifying imperial authority in the face of critical danger, both at home and abroad.