Sanger and her party sailed on the Taiyo Maru on February 21 with her visa granting her permission to enter China only. She had promised in writing that she would not disembark from the ship in Japan. She was confident, however, that she would be able to obtain permission to enter Japan en route and while on board addressed a group of the Japanese delegates returning from the Washington Naval Conference to secure their support. The Taiyo Maru was to stop at Honolulu before going on to Asia. Masanao Hanihara, an important member of the Japanese delegation to Washington had probably met Sanger on board the Taiyo Maru and concluded she was not a threat to the government. This was another example of her ability to convince high-ranking Japanese officials to argue on her behalf. (See Sanger, "Statement by Margaret Sanger," 18 February 1922 [Document 3] and Sanger to Hugh de Selincourt, 19 February 1922 [Document 4].)
February 24, 1922
I learned that the Japanese authorities are going to refuse to grant Mrs. Sanger permission to land and are opposing her idea of birth control. I wish to inform you that her plan is only to introduce an idea based on scientific and practical grounds in a very sensible manner, in order to relieve society from difficulties and advance the welfare of mankind. She will not give a lecture on or teach the actual method of birth control that may corrupt public morals.[A] Her work is aimed at the sound development of social morality, which is evident in her books and articles now sold in Japan[B] and the pamphlets of the American Birth Control League over which she presides.[C] She is a well-educated, honest woman, and is recognized internationally. Considering her status and fame, it is difficult to understand why our government decided not to allow Mrs. Sanger to land. I fear that that kind of action may have harmful influences. Certainly, there are some religious people opposing her movement in the United States, but many do so simply because of their bias against her. The fact remains that the large majority of educated people sympathize with Mrs. Sanger. I ask that you appeal to the authorities to reconsider their decision and permit her to land. Please send your reply before this ship arrives at Yokohama. Furthermore, we have Mr. and Mrs. John Mott, the Director of the Y.M.C.A. of the United States, on the ship (the party is made up of sixteen in all). Please allow them to go through customs without close examination as a courtesy. You may be familiar with his status and character and the mission that he is going to carry out in Japan.[D] It is desirable that he is given preferential treatment.
A.Hanihara later told a reporter: "She should be able to land. I became close to her on the ship, and she was an admirable woman. She seems to have been always studying in the library, and her theory was impressive." ("Mrs. Sanger Was Finally Permitted to Land after Intensive Interrogation," Tokyo Asahi Shinbun, 11 March 1922, p. 5 [Document 16].)
Back to Text
B.Sanger's book, Woman and the New Race (New York, N.Y.: Truth Publishing Company, 1920) was published in Japan in December 1921, as were several of her articles from the Birth Control Review.
Back to Text
C.Sanger probably shared birth control literature with Masanao Hanihara while they were on board the ship. These may have included ABCL, What We Stand For [Nov. 1921], accessible online at http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/3003757?n=1&printThumbnails=no
Back to Text
D.The Motts were traveling with a group from the Y.M.C.A.'s International Committee to attend the International Conference of the World Christian Student Federation in April 1922 in Beijing. ("YMCA Leader Tells of Work," Los Angeles Times, 18 February 1922; Guide to the Archive of the World's Christian Student Federation [Yale Divinity School]; "Anti-Christian Move in China Spreading," Washington Post, 11 April 1922).
Back to Text