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Maternity, Suffrage, War, and State: A Diachronic Review of the Women’s Movements in Modern Japan

Lee, Eun-gyong 1

1서울대학교 일본연구소

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study aims to diachronically explore the women’s movements in modern Japan by focusing on three key words, ‘maternity,’ ‘suffrage,’ and ‘war,’ in uncovering how these concepts relate to Japan as a state. In particular, this study sheds light on the policies toward women not from the perspective of the state, but rather from women’s perspective and evaluates their expectations toward the ‘state’ thorough the activities of Fusae Ichikawa and Raichō Hiratsuka. Hiratsuka, who was devoted to establishing the ‘state protection of maternity,’ ended up casting away such expectations toward the state after the failure of the petition movement developed by the New Women's Association. On the other hand, Ichikawa, encouraged by the success of women’s suffrage movement in the U.S., remained active in the petition movement in the hope of attaining female suffrage. Because of this, Ichikawa was more vulnerable to the requests by the national authorities for the cooperation in war efforts—event though most of her activities were contained within the redressing of everyday life issues. The expectations toward the ‘state’ was a principal driving force of women’s movements in modern Japan, yet at the same time it was also the reason why—as purging of Ichikawa symbolizes—they came to be stigmatized with the promotion of invasive war.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.