Document 23: Excerpt from Margaret Sanger, World Trip Journal, Tokyo, Japan, 18 March 1922, pp. 39-44 (Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, The Margaret Sanger Papers Microfilm Edition: Smith College Collections, reel S70, frames 60-65).


   When Sanger spoke on "Women and Freedom" before the New Women's Society (Shin Fujinkyokai) in Tokyo, only women were allowed into the meeting and were asked not to repeat anything Sanger said. The dinner and reception in honor of Sanger at the Imperial Hotel included a mix of Japanese social workers, professionals, government officials, and the press. In addressing different groups, her message was largely the same: that birth control was moral, scientific, and crucial to Japan's advancement as a modern nation. As the journal entry below indicates, what fascinated and troubled Sanger about the Japanese was how their interpretation of morality differed from hers. In particular, she could not reconcile the concern, common among many in Japan, that increased access to birth control would lead to promiscuous behavior, with the widespread acceptance and institutionalization of prostitution.

[p. 39]

Shin Fujin [Kyokarai]

   Meeting at 2 PM at New Womens Group about one hundred radical women present, leader of this group is said to live with husband without marriage Ceremony. The Interpeter Mrs [Gauntlett] is a Japanese married to an Englishman speaks excellent English. Interpeting is an art it seems, and Baroness Ishimoto corrected her for some mistaken views she put into Japanese.

[p. 40]

I was presented with a blue silk komona at the end of the meeting when tea & cake was again served tea & lemon in high glasses like the Russians serve it, seems to be popular. Mrs Coleman was present and a most remarkable help in all cases.

   The Barons reception & welcome dinner was due at 6 PM at the Hotel Imperial. About one hundred & fifty Japanese mainly men were there. A most represented group[:] Home office, welfare department, Physicians, specialists in various departments. Prof Abbé was on my left & Baron Ishimoto on my right at dinner, no wines, but citron cider was served. Proprieter of Hotel gave half proceeds of the dinner to the movement in Japan and a Study group was formed.

[p. 41]

   Baron Ishimoto Interpeted. It is very trying to stand so long. Many of those present understood English as was shown by marked attention when I spoke & laughter at the right place. Reporters were present.

   It was a very fine & successful affair. I spoke on morality of B.C. & gave an outline of the movement in other countries.

   Its morality that seems to trouble these people. They fear B.C. will lower morals of young people but when I visited Oshiwara after the reception with Mr & Mrs Coleman & Mrs Ishimoto I wonder just what is meant by that fear.

   The unlicensed [?] quarters are avenues of small two story houses--small alcoves where behind a window sits the girl with only a slit for her eyes to be seen. There are thousands of these

[p. 42]

girls in the quarter. The streets were full of men walking up & down occassionally talking to one of the girls Some men going into the houses while others were coming out.

   It gave one the horrors. The price of the girl was above the door--per hour--per night.

   After walking a half hour in this district we crossed the bridge to the Liscensed quarter & there one sees a new world. The houses are like large hotels, lanterns or electric lights sending out a soft warm glow. The wide streets are inviting & clean. The houses are built so large & spaciously, they all have courts with flowers or small gardens. There is an entrance like a driveway [drawing of a semicircle, with dots over top] through which the men walk to view the various photographs of the inmates ready for use.

[p. 43]

   In some frames there were no pictures but writing which said "just arrived. not time for picture."

   This would usually be the girl most in favor & I was told a new girl has nine or ten visitors an evening to the other girls two or three. All of these photographs look young, none of them look like girls over twenty-two or three--

   Certainly this quarter is the most attractive part of Tokyo. Is it any wonder the girls prefer to live there than in the factory visited this morning or at home where there is squalor, & poverty & suppression.

   There were less men wandering in the streets in this quarter than in the unlicensed, it was after eleven oclock, so perhaps they were inside. It was very depressing, but it makes

[p. 44]

one think deeply.

   I felt helpless in my work against that swarming crowd of men. They do not want these conditions made different. The women of these quarters seem to have no children. It is said that there are hospitals connected with these quarters, where children are born, but I can find no data to substantiate that report.

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