Title

From “Mothers of Humanity” to “Assisting the Emperor”: Gendered Belonging in the Wartime Rhetoric of Japanese Feminist Ichikawa Fusae

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-2011

Publisher

University of California Press

Abstract

Ichikawa Fusae, like other Japanese feminists from the 1920s through the 1940s, faced a dilemma as Japan pursued an increasingly aggressive foreign policy, first in Asia and later toward Western nations. A founder of the Women's Suffrage League who shared the gender-neutral beliefs of a transnational group of feminists, Ichikawa initially rejected the notion that women deserved the vote because of their status as mothers but eventually adopted this rationale as a strategy to gain inclusion in the Japanese nation-state. By the 1940s she also came to accept that service to the state in wartime——even service to a militaristic state whose policies she deplored——might offer the only means by which women could achieve individual citizenship in Japan. Feminists in Japan and elsewhere continue to debate the legacy of her choices.