This perceptive, detailed biography traces the life of Katô Shidzue, one of Japan's most powerful female activists and politicians. Katô's activism initially was sparked by her friendship with Margaret Sanger, who inspired Katô to found a Japanese birth control movement in the 1920s. Katô then opened one of Japan's first birth control clinics in the 1930s and worked for women's rights up to World War II despite the growing oppression of the country's militarists. After the war, she returned to public life, running for elective office. She served as a representative and as a senator, and with her entrée to the offices of the American Occupation she became one of the most effective women in postwar politics. Although primarily a political biography, this book also traces Katô s joys and sorrows as wife and mother. Helen Hopper movingly describes Katô's solitary struggle when her formerly radical husband abandoned her for imperialist adventurism; her secret liaison with the political labor leader Katô KanjÃ» during the 1930s; her despair at sending her first son to war and watching the second succumb to tuberculosis; and her delight with her wartime marriage to Katô KanjÃ» and the birth of a daughter during the U.S. firebombing of Tokyo. Still active at ninety-eight, Katô Shidzue continues to speak out forcefully for the causes she espouses. Scholars of Japan and of women's history will find this book a richly documented and engaging view of women's issues and political life in Japan.
Table of Contents
Preface -- Good Wife, Wise Mother (1897–1920) -- A "New Woman" of Japan (1921–1928) -- Independence (1929–1935) -- "Dangerous Thoughts" (1935–1936) -- Discreet Activism (1937) -- Political Suppression (1937–1938) -- Quiet Disapproval (1938–1939) -- "The Winter Years" (1939–1945) -- Rising from the Ashes (1945–1946) -- Political Triumph (1946) -- Populist Politics (1946–1947) -- Discord (1947–1949) -- Conflict over Birth Control (1949–1952) -- "Life-Changes" (1951–1957) -- A Political Maverick (1957–1995)