Japan

Organized Panel Session

(27) Rethinking Education and Women’s Empowerment in Imperial, Occupied, and Postwar Japan

3/22/2018
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Park Tower 8216, Lobby Level

Women in modern Japan have faced entrenched biases and considerable obstacles. And yet, as significant research on Tsuda Umeko has demonstrated, some found pathways to public, professional lives through education. Building from those insights, this panel examines how elite women in imperial and postwar Japan used education to empower themselves and influence society. Mamiko Suzuki investigates Meiji court lady and Jissen Women’s University founder Utako Shimoda (1854-1936). She developed a modern, gendered curriculum that combined practical subjects such as Domestic Science with courses highlighting female role models from ancient Japanese history and myth. Garrett Washington examines Yasui Tetsu (1870-1945), who attended Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School and the University of Cambridge, founded Tokyo Women’s Christian University, and became Japan’s first woman university president when she assumed the presidency at TWCU in 1925. Marlene Mayo studies Tomiyama Toki (b. 1885), principal of the Friends’ Girls School in Tokyo from 1926 and 1949, who developed transnational networks, studied abroad in the US, and then led her alma mater through World War II and the early Allied Occupation. Alisa Freedman analyzes pioneering efforts of Japanese women who studied abroad in the U.S between 1949 and 1966 and then played a significant role in establishing the field of Japanese Studies—a role underemphasized in the conventional “founding fathers” narrative. Together, these papers present agentic Japanese women, from the Meiji period to the postwar era, who seized educational opportunities at home and abroad and later founded universities, advanced academic fields, and elevated women’s status in Japan.

Presentations:

Garrett L. Washington

University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts

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Alisa Freedman

University of Oregon, Oregon

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Garrett L. Washington

University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts

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Mamiko Suzuki

University of Utah, Utah

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Marlene Mayo

University of Maryland, Maryland

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Alisa Freedman

University of Oregon, Oregon

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Elizabeth Lublin

Wayne State University, Michigan

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