Rethinking Women in Asia Under the Aggression of the Japanese Empire, 1931-1945

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Rethinking Women in Asia Under the Aggression of the Japanese Empire, 1931-1945
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Tatsuya Kageki, Keio University, Japan (organizer, presenter)
Pei-chen Wu, Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (discussant, chair)
Jiajia Yang, Nagoya University, Japan (presenter)
Wenwen Wang, Kyushu University, Japan (presenter)
Zhang Ya, Nagoya University, Japan (presenter)
Shih-Fen Wang, University of Tokyo, Japan (presenter)


Even though considerable research has documented the history of women’s oppression under Japanese nationalism and fascism, from the Mukden Incident in 1931 to the end of the Asia-Pacific War in 1945, the analysis has generally been from a Japanese standpoint. Focusing on areas outside the main islands of Japan, such as Manchuria, China proper, Taiwan, and the South Sea Islands, this panel explores how Asian women were controlled and regulated under the pressure of the Japanese Empire, how they resisted it, and how they interacted internationally.
Japanese women’s positive cooperation to the “home front,” set out as a chapter title in Vera Mackie’s Feminism in Modern Japan, is well known as the dark side of modern Japanese feminism. Some women feminists and socialists managed to escape from Japan, however, and sought to start a new movement. Colonial countries were the refuge for these women against the “home front” and imperial gender regulations. The international interaction between women from Japan and other Asian countries presented a possibility of liberation from nationalism. At the same time, the Japanese government promoted certain social norms for women in colonial countries. Asian women in the colonial countries were educated to be the ideal “woman” suitable for Japanese governmental policy. Under such cultural aggression, Asian women struggled between their original identity and Japanese imperial ideology.
Our multifaceted studies of Asian women in 1931-1945 will consider new aspects about the history of women in Modern Asia.