Human progress can be achieved as a result of the progress of women. Saying that there is no need for women to have profound knowledge or receive higher education is the same as saying that women are not human beings. Saying that it is enough for women to have only sewing or other practical skills is the same as viewing them as machines, not human beings.
Although there is more than one issue to be considered regarding the problem of women, the ultimate question is whether or not we are ready to accept women as human beings. Statements that women will not make any progress or grow up are often made, simply because [we] have not created a place for women in society. Certainly, women themselves are not much aware of this [problem], but society is to be criticized for creating this unhealthy condition.
Nowadays, our country is making steady progress in various fields, but our approaches to women's problems are still bound by old customs. Women are still confined within certain specified limits, and their place in society has not yet been found. Neither has educational policy become established. Today, there is a strong call for the acquisition of practical knowledge and skills, and easy and quick specialized programs are popular; and fundamental training in character building is being ignored. But more importantly, if [we] fail to recognize women's individual characters, know their ability as citizens, and help them complete their natural characters, not only the development of women themselves but also the development of society and the progress of the nation cannot be expected.
In 1898 the former Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Stetson, presently Mrs. Gilman, published a book entitled Women and Economics as an effort to find a fundamental solution to these problems. The book has gone through three editions in the years since its publication. This means that the book has been well received by the learned classes of European and American societies. It is my pleasure that this important book has been translated by women of our country and will be introduced to our fellow citizens. I am particularly delighted that the persons who undertook the work of translation were graduates of our Japan Women's University. I have no doubt that this translation will contribute greatly to the solution of women's problems in our country by drawing the attention of society to this most important issue in the twentieth century, for which the labor of the author and the translators will be rewarded.
Early February, the forty-fourth year of Meiji
The translation of the book is a collaborative project undertaken by three graduates of Japan Women's University: Take Otawa (Chap. 1-5), Junko Koyama (Chap. 6-10), and Sadako Koide (Chap. 11-15). In it, these ladies did their best not to miss the point of the original. A fair number of literary works have been written by women of our country, but considering the scarcity of women's writings in the field of science today, their achievement is to be celebrated. It will not only contribute to [the reputation of] the Japan Civilization Society but also give a great deal of hope to the future [development] of our national culture.
February, the forty-fourth year of Meiji
The Editorial Board
Japan Civilization Society
--Translated into English by Kazuhiro Oharazeki