Americans Taught Japanese Women They have Equal Rights as if Civil Rights are Free Lunch

Japan surrendered in World War 2, and Allied Powers(USA) occupied Japan. USA was expecting future confrontation against Soviet Union so the goal of the occupation of Japan was Westernizing Japan in every aspect of the nation. It is known to historians how liberal the occupation of Japan was, and pushing feminism to the Japanese society was one of the main goals.

U.S. Occupation of Japan

U.S. Occupation of Japan

All the major sectors of the Japanese society, government, and economy were liberalized in the first few years and won strong support from liberals in Japan. Historians emphasize the similarity to the American New Deal programs of the 1930s.

Occupation of Japan - Wikipedia

As I explained in the previous page, Japanese women used to be more free than Western women. Japanese wives had full power over the household income.

When I left home, Japan, at large, was still following the old custom of educating a girl to be responsible for the well-being of her entire family — husband included. The husband was the lord of the family; but the wife was mistress of the home and, according to her own judgment, controlled all its expenses— the house, the food, the children’s clothing and education; all social and charitable responsibilities, and her own dress, the material and style of which were expected to conform to her husband’s position.

Where did she get the money? The husband’s income was for his family, and his wife was the banker. When he wanted money for himself he asked her for it, and it was her pride to manage so that she could allow him the amount suitable for a man of his standing

A Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto

Americans who came to Japan as the conqueror, however, didn't know such culture of Japan, and saw Japanese women having no position in the society and thought they needed to be liberated.

As helpless women of color, they became ideal candidates for American salvation and emancipation. The occupier's zeal for liberation of Japanese women from indigenous male domination was all-consuming and multifaceted.

Feminism and the Cold War in the U.S. Occupation of Japan

Americans of the occupation army taught Japanese women they have the equal rights with men. Rights to vote, rights to pursuit career, and rights to make men help their household chores. Americans, however, didn't teach Japanese women about responsibilities that come with rights. Those who vote must know about principles of democracy, but Americans didn't teach. Those who have civil rights must know how much of blood was shed in order to win civil rights, but Americans didn't teach. Americans taught Japanese women they have equal rights as if civil rights are free lunch. As the consequence, Japanese women believed they were entitled to have equal rights without responsibilities. Japanese women believed they were entitled to deny fathers' authority from home while keeping their responsibility to earn money for family. Japanese women believed they were entitled to marry a man for money and divorce him soon after and take children with child support. It is common in Japan fathers living away from their families for better salary. They are called bachelor husbands(tanshin funin sha). It is well known among Westerners who married to Japanese that Japanese mothers abduct children(International parental child abduction in Japan).

Continues to Part 4



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