Document 21: "Prominent Women Met Secretly, Taking Countermeasures Against Mrs. Sanger," published as "Chomei na fujin ga himitsu ni kaigō shi Sa fujin ni taikō saku," Kyoto Hinode Shinbun, 15 March 1922, p. 3. Translated by Kazuhiro Oharazeki.


Introduction

   As in the U.S. and in other countries, Sanger encountered in Japan both ignorance of sexuality and fear that increased sexual freedom would undermine morality and the sanctity of the family. In the following article, a group of Japanese women articulated their concerns about Sanger and her support of sexual autonomy and birth control.


Japanese-language original

[p. 3]

PROMINENT WOMEN MET SECRETLY,
TAKING COUNTERMEASURES AGAINST MRS. SANGER

   Because the authorities interfered with Mrs. Sanger even before her arrival, birth control became the talk of the country and provided people with all kinds of topics, both serious and not serious, for discussion. The lady finally arrived in Tokyo the other day and got settled at the warm home of Baron Ishimoto. A day or two ago, when people were waiting to see what she would do next, a group of seven or eight ladies--all prominent figures in the fields of education, medicine, religion, and journalism--met at one place. They decided to remain anonymous so that the public would not meddle in their affairs; therefore, I cannot disclose their names here.

   A lady, who has always presented moderate views on any kind of subject, observed: "Mrs. Sanger says that there is no effective means except birth control to solve the problem of overpopulation, improve the lives of workers, and eliminate the evil of abortion. In a word, Mrs. Sanger appears to see sexual desire as a positive good. In my opinion, sexual desire is the root, and children are the buds. It is wrong to cut the buds while leaving the root as it is. If women wish not to have children, there should be other means to achieve the purpose."

   Another lady responded: "Mrs. Sanger does not necessarily see sexual desire as a positive good. In my understanding, Mrs. Sanger's intention is to make sexual desire more divine and improve the quality of the race. But I don't agree with the idea that the knowledge [of birth control] should be spread in Japan immediately."

   Knitting her beautiful brows, another lady observed: "I regret to say that our people are inferior to the people in her country, so [the knowledge of birth control] should never be spread. If it is widely spread and used for immoral purposes, not only the lower class but also the educated classes will be confused. It will be deplorable to see the corruption of public morals."

   Another lady, a self-proclaimed "friend of the poor," who has made friends with workers, stated: "It is dangerous to teach the laboring class how to practice birth control. It is more important to give each of them a tatami mat and a futon before spreading the information about birth control."

   The discussion, which dealt with a variety of subjects, continued for about two hours and reached the following conclusions: this [birth control] is a matter of grave concern, and women should refrain from arguing about whether it is right or wrong thoughtlessly; they should first listen to what Mrs. Sanger wants to say; they, nevertheless, should respect nature and continue to seek other means to solve the problem of overpopulation and improve the lives of workers.

   This group, which can be called a "secret anti-Sanger organization," will be seeking an opportunity to meet Mrs. Sanger. They may even take some form of decisive attitude [toward her], although they will continue to remain anonymous.



back to top