Sex in the City:
Chastity vs Free Love in Interwar Japan

Elise Tipton

... sex is always political. But there are also historical periods
in which sexuality is more sharply contested and more overtly politicized.
In such periods, the domain of erotic life is, in effect, renegotiated.
Gayle Rubin[1]

  1. Yes, ‘sex is always political’, and the media is one of the ‘primary producers’ of sexual ideology.[2] The historian Jeffrey Weeks has traced the construction and dissemination of bourgeois social morality in England from the eighteenth century, which reached a peak in the Victorian era of the middle and late nineteenth century.[3] A similar phenomenon occurred in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Japan. Although Japan was by no means a Christian society, Christian-based views of social morality, entangled with assumptions about gender roles, permeated the values of Japanese elites. These moral values and gender roles became embedded in the ‘good wife, wise mother’ ideology[4] and institutionalised in the 1898 Civil Code. During the 1910s and 1920s, however, these values were challenged as new ideas of sexual behaviour and gender relations flowed from Europe and the United States, disseminated by the burgeoning print media. A good example of journalism’s role in an attempt to redefine gender roles and public morals is Josei, a magazine started by the Kurabu cosmetics company and aimed at introducing ‘the modern’ to educated middle and upper middle class women, who mainly lived in urban areas.
  2. Josei entered a dynamic media scene in 1922, a time when popular, commercial women’s magazines were proliferating, led by the founding of Shufu no tomo in 1917. However, unlike Shufu no tomo or Fujin kurabu, Josei aimed at a more highly educated readership of women.[5] The contributors, and the style and content of their articles, reflected this. They were well-known literary and journalistic figures, presenting their views on the ‘modern’ ideas and practices of the day through fiction and in essays best characterised as abstract rather than practical. At the same time, the modern topics discussed were not usually matters of current politics or foreign affairs (as in another magazine aimed at educated women, Fujin kōron), but social and cultural. So, for example, while promoting feminist goals, contributors did not write as representatives of particular organisations or activist movements and their policies. Despite, or perhaps because of, the relatively high-brow nature of the articles and their writers, the magazine enjoyed a fairly large circulation of 25,000 copies.[6] A 1983 retrospective in the women’s magazine an-an described Josei as the ‘bible of the modern girl,’ which attests to its success in reaching its targeted audience.[7] In addition, the high reputation of contributors also attracted male readers.[8]
  3. Striking among the modern topics discussed in the magazine were essays about chastity (teisō) , the ‘new chastity’, romantic love (ren’ai) and free love (jiyū ren’ai). These discussions were neither graphic nor sensationalistic. In fact, although related to sexual behaviour and morality, they included no actual descriptions or references to physical acts of sex. Nevertheless, to publish articles on such topics in itself was bold and innovative, although not unprecedented. As early as the 1870s Meiji liberals in the Meirokusha (Meiji Six Society) had called for monogamy and equality between men and women in marriage (though not politics or the wider society).[9] The pioneering feminist journal Seitō [Bluestocking], published from 1911 to 1916, had added demands for female sexuality to Meiji feminists’ demands for economic independence and political rights. The ‘new women’ contributors to Seitō had discussed sexuality openly and related it to the politics of women’s condition. They carried on debates about chastity and abortion as well as motherhood. Certain issues of Seitō had provoked police censors’ warnings or bans because of articles on such subjects,[10] and more generally, the magazine contributed greatly to the raising of the ‘woman question’ [fujin mondai] in more mainstream journals during the 1910s.[11]
  4. By the early 1920s, then, the topics of chastity and free love were neither taboo nor prohibited by the censors and were discussed in intellectual circles, but such topics did not usually appear in popular, commercial women’s magazines such as Shufu no tomo. For example, Shufu no tomo published articles about birth control, a new and previously taboo topic that was related to sexual behaviour and morality. However, Shufu no tomo articles generally approached such a topic from a more individualistic and less intellectual perspective.[12] Most articles on birth control focused on the successful or unsuccessful experiences of individuals with birth control, rather than abstract discussions of the idea.[13] The concrete, personal approach of Shufu no tomo articles contrasts with the intellectual style of writing and the often didactic stance of writers in Josei, reflecting the difference in their contributors and their target readerships.
  5. It is clear from the frequency of articles on chastity and free love that these topics aroused intense interest among both writers and readers, for not only were the topics of chastity, romantic love and free love broached in Josei, but they were arguably the most frequently discussed in the magazine. During the life of the magazine (1922-28) at least three issues per year included articles on these interrelated topics, and eight issues included not simply single articles, but feature sections with titles such as: ‘Difficulty in Living, Unemployment and Chastity’ (January 1924), ‘Divorce Suits and Chastity Issues’ (October 1926), ‘Criticism of Free Love’ (July 1927), ‘Male Chastity Issues’ (September 1927), and ‘The Chastity Crisis’ (February 1928). The section titles including the words ‘criticism’ and ‘crisis’ indicate that, as Foucault argued in the case of late nineteenth century Europe, sexuality was an object of fear, or at least anxiety, as well as excitement.[14]
  6. Through an analysis of articles on chastity and love, we can see the role played by print media in chronicling, critiquing and creating new social phenomena. The media is an important shaper of sexual ideology, along with the family, the state, the medical profession and moral crusaders.[15] Josei functioned as a forum in which intellectuals, social activists and journalist commentators were able to analyse, or more often, to celebrate and propose various forms of modernity. Following Foucault and historians of sex during the past few decades, we can see the way that discourse shapes and defines public morality, in this case a new morality that might suit the social changes of the younger, urban generation in 1920s Japan, especially more educated women, but without destroying social order and stability.
  7. As Foucault theorised in his History of Sexuality, and as Weeks has shown in the history of sexual politics in England, sexuality is an historical construct. An essentialist view of sex dominated histories of sex as well as most psychological, anthropological and sociological literature until the 1970s, based on the assumption that sex is an overpowering, instinctual force. However, it has been increasingly recognised that sexuality undergoes definition and redefinition along with political and social change.[16] In the early 1970s John Gagnon and William Simon contributed to this recognition through their book, Sexual Conduct. They also argued that ‘social roles are not vehicles for the expression of sexual impulse but ... sexuality becomes a vehicle for expressing the needs of social roles.’[17] In other words, sex is not an autonomous natural drive that shapes social roles. Rather, society and culture shape sexual norms and behaviour. Gagnon and Simon were discussing the importance of class differences in establishing sexual patterns and behaviour, in particular in sex-role learning during childhood and adolescence. Taking an historical example, Weeks similarly sees the development of nineteenth century English sexual morality as part of the creation of a differentiated class identity of middle-classness.[18] From this perspective, we can see the discourse on chastity and free love in Josei as evidence of a struggle to define sex and sexuality for the new urban middle class in modernising 1920s Japan.
  8. At the same time, the discussion about chastity and free love was not only about sexual behaviour and morality. Writers made explicit connections between the concepts of romantic love or free love and challenges not only to established notions of marriage and the institution of marriage, but also to the private property system. In addition, such concepts were linked with debates over separate gender roles and equality between men and women. The ‘chastity question’ [teisō mondai] was closely interrelated with the ‘woman question’. It problematised women’s legal inequality and their restricted options in Japanese society.
  9. The debates therefore represent both a reflection of wider social anxieties related to modernisation and a contribution to changes in social norms. Historians and theorists of sexuality have argued that major phases of concern about sexual behaviour have coincided with periods of political and social disruption.[19] In Gayle Rubin’s words, 'Disputes over sexual behavior often become vehicles for displacing social anxieties, and discharging their attendant emotional intensity. Consequently, sexuality should be treated with special respect in times of great social stress.'[20]
  10. The 1880s and 1890s in England, the last decades of the tsarist regime in Russia, and the 1950s in the United States are examples of such periods of social change.[21] Japan in the 1920s is another. Economic stagnation and unemployment for the emerging new middle class of white collar salaried workers as well as for industrial workers and tenant farmers characterised the decade. This coincided with an influx of new liberal and radical political and social ideologies and movements from Europe and the United States, including Marxian socialism, communism, feminism and Wilsonian democracy, and the beginnings of mass consumerism and cultural modernism.
  11. The writers in Josei were prominent intellectual leaders in these modernising trends, but they did not present or promote a distinct, uniform view on moral issues; in fact, sometimes they present sharply conflicting views of what was going on in Japanese society and the direction in which the society should be going. Some were liberals and some were socialists, and their broader agendas varied accordingly. Such contradictions typified the debates over modernity and modernisation during the 1920s and 1930s. In the debates we can therefore find indications of the ways in which existing moral values, social institutions and social roles were being questioned, although not being rejected outright in the process of modernisation.

    Changing views of marriage, sex and love
  12. What were the existing moral values, social institutions and social roles? Only fifty years earlier at the beginning of the Meiji period, polygamy and concubinage had been legal,[22] and the modern, educated middle classes comprised only a small minority. As Harald Fuess has detailed in his social history of divorce, the rate of divorce was high during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) and through the 1890s because marriage itself was not clearly defined until promulgation of the 1898 Civil Code. Divorce rates declined significantly after the Civil Code established a uniform, national definition of marriage, namely, marriage defined by registration with governmental authorities. This marginalised other relationships such as concubinage and common-law marriages, which declined from an estimated 16 per cent in 1920 (the date of the first modern census) to 7 per cent in 1940.[23] The Code represented a new ideology emphasising monogamy and wifehood, indicating the influence of Western, Christian-based views of marriage and social morality. Foreigners, since the middle of the nineteenth century, had often criticised the frequency of divorces and semi-official condoning of concubinage. A European diplomat, LW Küchler, observed in 1885 that ‘the knot is loosely tied and may be easily unfastened.’[24] They therefore welcomed the ‘more rigorous provisions [that] were enacted in regard to marriage’ in the Code.[25]
  13. Foreigners’ criticisms shaped the attitudes of middle class intellectuals, such as members of the Meirokusha who promoted ‘civilisation and enlightenment,’ where 'civilisation' meant Western social and cultural practices and morality. The new ideology also reflected the elite class values of intellectuals and government officials, namely their disapproval of co-habitation and the marriage and divorce practices common among the poor.[26] A Jiji shinpō journalist, for example, pointed to the informal co-habitation and marriage practices of the poor in a section of Osaka in 1888 as evidence of their ‘uncivilised and nonsensical’ lifestyle. He and other journalist investigators criticised the lack of parental intervention in marriage decisions and the absence of proper go-betweens in bringing potential spouses together before marriage.[27]
  14. Although initially promoted by the middle and upper classes, the new ideology of monogamy and officially defined marriage did not remain confined to the minority of elites, but spread rapidly throughout Japanese society. The rapid decline of the illegitimate childbirth rate from 1910 onwards reflects the popular acceptance of the Code’s definition of marriage.[28] This seems to have occurred in rural as well as urban areas. In her fieldwork in a village during the mid 1930s, Ella Wiswell found that divorces had been quite common a generation earlier, but had declined among young people.[29] Large spending on weddings also suggests the great importance placed on marriage and formal marriage ceremonies.
  15. Josei writings support Fuess’s view that although concubines might still exist and although Christianity had made relatively few converts by the early 1920s,[30] the monogamous marriage had become the norm. Writers all referred to monogamy as the prevailing type of marriage, presumed to be both the desired and the objective norm in Japanese society. Moreover, although divorces had been high in international comparisons in the nineteenth century, by the 1920s divorce had become far less frequent[31] and divorced women suffered from a social stigma.[32]
  16. In addition, from Josei articles we can see that sexual love was increasingly being regarded as a central element in marriage. Although in practice the percentage of so-called ‘love marriages’ increased gradually and only reached 11 per cent by the second half of the 1930s, prospective spouses had more opportunities to meet each other before marriage. Marriages resulting from such meetings, or ‘miai marriages,’ increased from 38 per cent in the Taishō period (1912-1926) to 51 per cent in the years from 1936-1941.[33] In one of Josei’s early issues, an article examined the trend toward regarding sex as a source of pleasure rather than as serving only reproductive purposes, or what the author Murakami Hideo dubbed the 'pleasurisation of reproduction' [seishoku no yūgika].[34] In fact, Murakami argued that it was rare even for married couples to engage in sex only for reproductive purposes and that sexual pleasure was a reward for the heavy burdens of having children. Here and in another article by Fujii Kenjirō[35] we can see the influence of late nineteenth and early twentieth century European sexologists and sexual reformers, such as Havelock Ellis, and social reformers, such as Henry Sidgwick.
  17. Ellis was the greatest of British writers on sexuality and probably the most influential during the interwar years, especially on new texts about married love.[36] His writings were introduced to Japan in Japanese translations, beginning in 1897.[37] Although he assumed that women's sexuality was passive and responsive due to their biological differences from men, Ellis was nevertheless a reformer in explicitly arguing for the legitimacy of women’s having their sexual needs satisfied and criticising men for being clumsy or insensitive during sexual intercourse. Ellis and most other contemporary sex researchers were ultimately conservative in their conclusions, supporting monogamy, the centrality of the family, and gender divisions, but they were radical in their emphasis on the importance of female sexuality and reformist in their advocacy of marriage as a 'companionate' or ethical union of two people. Ellis in particular was influential for his almost mystical idealisation of sexuality and stress on the spiritual and social importance of sex.[38]
  18. Sidgwick, an ethics scholar at Cambridge University, is not as well known as Ellis, but he was cited by Fujii in support of similar views on sex in marriage for pleasure. According to Fujii, Sidgwick argued that marriage was not only to produce children, and that even if marriage was for children, that it was impossible to argue that a couple should not have sex for other purposes as well. Sidgwick, said Fujii, likened such a restriction to arguing that we should not have conversation or music to enjoy food because eating is only for sustenance.[39]
  19. Josei writers related these changing expectations to the 'awakening' of women to a realisation that love is the union of the spirit and flesh, an idea that sounds very similar to Havelock Ellis’s views.[40] This awakening had led to the belief that to be happy one needs love, and therefore, that a marriage without love leads to unhappiness. Waseda professor, Sugimori Kōjirō, criticised the existing system of marriage, customs and morality for providing little or no opportunity for the realisation of love. Because he regarded love as special, one of the deepest feelings in life, Sugimori considered the lack of opportunity to fulfil it as a major defect, even a crime [zaiaku] in the existing system of forced and arranged marriages.[41]

    The ‘old chastity’ and the ‘new chastity’
  20. Given the new importance placed on love in marriage, there were increasing expectations of and a demand for chastity in the husband-wife relationship. The ‘awakening’ of women, said Josei writers, had created stronger women who hated men’s inability to control their physical desires and impulsive behaviour. These women were now demanding fidelity from men and bringing an increasing number of lawsuits for divorce against unfaithful husbands.[42]
  21. In the September 1927 issue, Chiba Kameo,[43] a prominent literary critic and supporter of feminism who contributed frequently to Josei, reported on a Supreme Court case in which the judge stated that both husbands and wives had an equal obligation to be faithful to each other. In a rather complicated case that had come up to the Supreme Court on appeal, Chief Justice Yokota not only accepted the defence’s argument based on the wife’s rights as a lawful wife [fuken], but also stated in his ruling that a husband who left his wife to enter into a de facto relationship with another woman had breached his obligation of chastity [teisō] to his wife. Justice Yokota also stated that while a wife had an obligation of chastity to her husband, a husband had an equal obligation of chastity to his wife.[44]
  22. According to Chiba, Yokota’s judgement was ‘drawing the attention of both men and women as an epoch-making, excellent court ruling.’[45] This certainly would have been the view of virtually all contributors to the Josei discussions on chastity, for they criticised what was referred to as the ‘old chastity’ whereby only wives had to be faithful to their husbands. Given their feminist perspective, it is notable that the term for ‘chastity’ used in these discussions was ‘teisō’. ‘Teisō’ was more gender neutral than other terms that might also be translated as ‘chastity’, such as ‘teisetsu’, which referred only to women’s fidelity or chastity.[46] Yokota’s ruling supported efforts at that time to eliminate the old chastity that was embedded in the divorce laws in the Civil Code and in the crime of adultery in the Criminal Code. According to the Civil Code, a wife’s, but not a husband’s, adultery constituted grounds for seeking a divorce in the courts. Most divorces then as now did not require court intervention if both husband and wife consented to ending the marriage. Divorce cases therefore only went before a court in contested situations and even then, there were only ten grounds for a judicial divorce, one of which was a wife’s adultery.[47] In the Criminal Code a wife’s, but not a husband’s adultery was punishable by imprisonment up to two years. In the same year as Yokota’s ruling, there was a proposal to amend the criminal law to make adultery by either spouse a crime.
  23. The efforts to revise the Civil Code had begun with establishment of a special committee in 1919. These moves were led by conservatives who wished to revise parts of the Code that did not agree with 'good morals and beautiful customs,' that is, with the family system ideology.[48] Despite these initial motivations, the reform recommendations tabled by the committee in 1927 did not in the end expand the rights of the head of household (who was usually a male). They included an item that would have protected a wife’s property as her own and added more flexibility in reasons for divorce. At the same time, however, the sexual double standard for divorce remained. Whereas a wife’s adultery was grounds for a divorce, a husband would have to be guilty of extreme misconduct or impropriety [fugyōseki]. Committee member Hozumi Shigetō, who sometimes contributed to Josei, criticised this on the grounds that the expression would give the impression that a husband was allowed to do whatever he wanted to as long as it was not ‘extreme misconduct.’[49] Justice Yokota, Hozumi and other Josei writers’ inability to remove the double standard in the divorce law demonstrates the continuing obstacles to achieving equality in women’s legal and social position during the 1920s. These obstacles were not removed until the new constitution and the new civil code of 1947.
  24. The inability to eliminate the sexual double standard also derived from assumptions about the biological differences between men’s and women’s sexual needs. As discussed above, Havelock Ellis and other Western sexologists were introducing ideas supporting the legitimacy of women’s sexual needs, but such ideas were not yet widely accepted in Japanese society. Josei writers pointed out that it was still commonly assumed that women’s sexual desires and needs were less than men’s. According to Hirai Masuko, ordinary people just sneered if you talked about men’s chastity because they believed that men and women were different.[50] Moreover, many of the writers themselves believed that male lust was impossible to control. As Ikuta Hanayo declared, ‘asking for chastity in men is like hoping for rain under a scorching sun.’[51] Similarly, Yamada Kuniko pessimistically concluded that although she wished for equal obligations of chastity for men and women, she did not believe that male chastity could be expected. It had not been maintained in the past, nor in the present, nor would it be in the future.[52] Consequently, although a campaign to abolish the licensed prostitution system was gaining support, newspaper editorials and reporters wondered what would happen if it succeeded because they took male infidelity for granted.[53]
  25. Despite such scepticism about achieving male chastity, contributors to Josei not only attacked the old double standard of chastity, but they also voiced fundamental criticisms of monogamous marriage. A number of writers referred to monogamous marriage having been established as the institutionalised norm due to the private property system [shiyūzaisei]. Fujii Kenjirō cited the German socialist leader August Bebel's assertion that the present system of marriage was no more than a sign of the bourgeoisie's dominance, an institution for the continuation of the bourgeoisie's property system.[54] Monogamy was required by the bourgeoisie not only to produce an heir, but more importantly, to establish legitimacy for the continuation of lineage and passing on of property. The monogamous marriage thus became a 'contract.' Non-socialist as well as socialist writers pointed out critically that the existing marriage system and the double standard clearly manifested the inequality between men and women. Women were economically dependent on men/husbands. They had no way to support themselves outside of marriage, so they were unable to leave an unhappy marriage where there was no love and a husband was unfaithful.[55] The main criticism therefore was of the 'old chastity' that applied only to women and of marriage that trapped women.
  26. Social critic Murobuse Kōshin was particularly forceful in attacking the old idea of chastity and seeking to demolish it. As he argued, sincerity, sacrifice and limitless love had been promoted for women in the name of chastity, but this chastity was in fact slavery, and monogamy was a system to control women like a life imprisonment sentence, while men maintained their right to have concubines. Similarly, he noted that the era of the family system was the 'era of men's despotism' [otoko no senseiseiji] in which women were slaves.[56] Murobuse was optimistic that the free love movement would destroy the family system and the system of perpetual monogamy. He noted that laws permitting free marriage had already been realised in numerous European countries, including Belgium, Italy, Romania and the Soviet Union, and he anticipated that free divorce would follow.[57]
  27. Other writers also praised the Soviet Union’s marriage and divorce laws. Fuse Katsuji reported his conversation with the head of the housemaids at the place where he stayed in Moscow. The woman had enthused about changes since the Bolshevik Revolution, saying that it had become easy to marry and divorce without interference from the church or family. New procedures also made marriage easy since they only required a couple to go to a local government office for a simple civil ceremony in which they confirmed their love, a desire to marry, and a commitment to live together.[58] This contrasted with the Meiji Civil Code that required parental consent for both marriage and divorce up to the age of twenty-five for women and thirty for men.[59]
  28. The impact of Marxian socialism among Japanese intellectuals during the 1920s is also evident in Niizuma Kan’s view linking dominant economic interests with the monogamous marriage system. Niizuma shared Murobuse’s optimism about future social change, foreseeing the 'dawn' of a new society in which women would be equal to men. Like Foucault or Weeks, Niizuma argued that morality was a socially constructed code of conduct, not something sacred that had come down from heaven. But unlike Foucault and Weeks, Niizuma saw sexual morality as a reproduction of capitalist social relations. He argued that the patriarchal family system, monogamy and chastity for women were a result of economic development and establishment of the private property system. Morality, he further argued, was a mere convenience for maintenance of the status quo. In Japan it allowed acceptance of ‘cruel’ or ‘illogical’ things such as war and the keeping of concubines in order to have children.[60]
  29. But Niizuma detected changes in Japanese society, even though men in general and most women still were not aware of them. Although 'dawn is dark,' it had come with the 'awakening' of women's intellect. Awakened women were now rebelling against men, that is, against society and against morality that was controlled by men. Niizuma pointed to an increasing number of suits brought by husbands against wives in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police's Private Affairs Advisory Office. This might imply an increase in immorality among women, but to Niizuma, the statistics instead reflected an increase in the number of women who felt that the dawn was near and were acting against their oppression.[61] In conclusion, then, Niizuma was quite optimistic about the future and called upon women to rescue women by bringing about a new society and a reconstructed economic system where women were equal to men.[62]
  30. Eight prominent women also made a link between the economy and social developments in a feature section of the January 1924 issue, in this case, unemployment/poverty and chastity problems. The perception of increased prostitution after the Kantō earthquake that destroyed much of Tokyo in September 1923 had prompted the discussion. Miyake Yasuko noted that some prostitutes were perverted women [hentaiteki josei] who themselves chose to become prostitutes because they enjoyed sex, and Wada Tomiko criticised the existence of so many prostitutes in Japan. But at the same time, they blamed unemployment and the instability of women's livelihood for poor women’s selling 'the only thing they had left.'[63] Moreover, the recent natural disaster was not only to blame; society and its creation of women as social 'parasites' were also responsible. As Wada and Oku Mumeo argued, educating women as simply 'good wives and wise mothers' resulted in their dependence on marriage as their sole means of a living.[64]
  31. Okagami Ryū went on to connect this position with the old concept of chastity. As she argued, the present concept of chastity based on ‘good wife, wise mother’ morality had emerged in a period when being a chaste wife brought stability in women’s livelihood. But Okagami pointed out that ‘women of culture’ (i.e., the good wives and wise mothers of the middle and upper classes) had no economic capacity. In fact, they were no more than exclusively contracted prostitutes. Being chaste, she argued, stifled their individuality and suppressed their instincts, for this was most important for their ‘business’ of being wives. Consequently, in Okagami’s view the solution to problems of women’s chastity depended on solving their difficulties in living and unemployment. The way to do this was by amending the Civil Code and other laws to improve the position of women.[65]
  32. In this issue and elsewhere, the socialist Yamakawa Kikue was even more explicit about the need for changes in the economic system. Like other contributors, she linked the high rate of unemployment after the earthquake with prostitution, noting that with no other means of making a living, hungry women turned to prostitution. However, she differed from liberals in seeing measures such as job agencies and unions as only mitigating the worst unemployment, not solving fundamental problems. In the meantime, though, she argued that in the reconstruction of Tokyo after the earthquake the licensed prostitution districts and slums should not be rebuilt.[66] In an article on the ‘chastity crisis,’ Yamakawa also criticised the view of women as sexual playthings [seiteki ganrōbutsu] rather than persons of noble character, leading to the sexual double standard and the treatment of rape victims as moral sinners. She argued that it was most important to raise the moral standard of men and to strengthen their self-control in order to prevent sexual crimes against women. Yamakawa traced the cause of crimes against women to the moral defects that she assumed accompanied poverty. Eradicating poverty would therefore prevent such crimes, but she did not believe that this was possible in capitalist society. Yamakawa argued that there would be no solution to women's unhappiness, the problem of an increasing number of sex crimes against women, or women becoming prostitutes until the private property system was abolished.[67]
  33. The concerns about middle class women’s economic dependency on men were ironically voiced at a time when more middle class women were actually entering the workforce. During the 1920s new occupations opened up for women, while poor employment conditions for male white collar workers pushed their wives and daughters into paid work to supplement the family income. Nursing and teaching attracted the largest number of these new so-called ‘shokyugyō fujin’ or ‘professional working women’ (who were distinguished from the ‘rōdō fujin’ or ‘jokō ’ who were factory workers), but there were also opportunities for work in the service and retail industries as well as clerical administration.[68]
  34. Although we might have expected supporters of women’s emancipation to welcome this new development, Josei writers expressed mixed feelings about the emergence of shokugyō fujin. The well-known feminist and founder of Seitō Hiratsuka Raichō, for example, viewed the growing phenomenon with regret. In her eyes it was leading to a decline in the value of motherhood. In another way, Murobuse Kōshin criticised the new group of middle class working women for losing their independence, which he defined as a matter of character [jinkaku], and becoming a commodity.[69] Ikeda Eiko linked shokugyō fujin more directly to the chastity problem, noting that working provided women with many opportunities for sexual relations. But while this might have harmful effects, Ikeda was optimistic that through self-cultivation and mutual help, women themselves could save this situation.[70] Here are examples of the didactic stance often taken by Josei contributors toward their readers. Although adopting a liberal ideal of the autonomous subject, their promotion of education and self-cultivation indicates some continuation of the ‘enlightenment’ attitudes of the intellectual and cultural elites of the earlier Meiji period.
  35. Ikeda’s concern about the sexual morality of professional working women was shared by many journalists and social commentators writing in other magazines and newspapers during the 1920s, but, unlike Ikeda, they often doubted the women’s ability to maintain their virtue. Perhaps not surprisingly, Salvation Army leader, Yamamuro Gunpei assumed that ‘as young women leave home and start working and mixing with men, they are going to make mistakes when it comes to maintaining their chastity.’[71] Other commentators, even though not committed moral reformers like Yamamuro, warned of the sexual dangers of commuting in crowded buses and trains with men, and often attributed promiscuity to office girls. As one newspaper reported, ‘working women defiantly crack the whip when they take a break from their “heavy” work load, and are probably having sex orgies off somewhere in the corner of the office.’[72]

    The pros and cons of ‘free love’
  36. The fantasy about sex orgies relates to the excitement and controversies surrounding the idea of ‘free love’ [jiyū ren’ai]. Free love had social connotations, since it was associated with the ‘new woman’ and ‘modern girl’ who challenged the ‘good wife, wise mother’ ideal. Free love also had political connotations, for it was linked with radical ideas of anarchism, socialism, and communism. The question of sex and sexual norms was thus deeply embedded in social and political concerns.
  37. Critical views of free love and the sexuality of professional working women are evident in depictions of modern women in fiction serialised in Josei as well as in essays. Perhaps the most well-known character is Naomi from Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s Chijin no ai [A Fool’s Love]. Naomi was a café waitress whose resemblance to the American actress Mary Pickford attracted the attention of the male protagonist Jōji, a typical white collar worker of the new middle class. Jōji and Naomi set themselves up in a Western-style house, but Naomi enjoyed going to dance halls more than Jōji and soon left him at home and took up with other men. Jōji eventually kicked Naomi out of the house, but could not forget her. In the end she returned to him, but on her terms—a big house, other material luxuries, and freedom to go out with other men.[73]
  38. Satomi Ton, another prominent writer whose serialised story ‘Yotsuba no umagoyashi’ [The Four Leaf Clover] appeared during 1923, also depicted a middle class working woman as a sexually promiscuous woman. In this novel, the female protagonist Atsuko worked as a newspaper reporter, one of the new occupations for educated middle class women in the 1920s, including Josei readers. She carried on affairs with four lovers at the same time, which Satomi commented in a narrator’s/author’s intervention, was a mistaken understanding of freedom typical of financially independent women.[74] Atsuko decided to marry one of the four men not because she loved him, but because she thought he would make a good husband, and on the night before the wedding went to a hotel with another of the four. She felt unhappy about her wedding but planned to go ahead with it because she regarded marriage as a business contract that had nothing to do with love. Atsuko’s unhappiness may be seen as Satomi’s commentary on the fate of ‘hedonistic’ working women who married for money rather than for love.
  39. Naomi and Atsuko are fictional representatives of hedonistic pleasure-seeking love that was explicitly criticised by many Josei contributors in discussions about love and free love. In these discussions the word ‘ren’ai’ was most commonly used for ‘love’ and should more precisely be translated as ‘romantic love.’ ‘Romantic love’ was a concept popularised during the 1920s, along with introduction of the ideal of ‘companionate marriage’ [yūai kekkon][75] and the approval of sex in marriage for pleasure. As indicated above, virtually all writers argued for the importance of love in life and of love as the basis for marriage. This was often what they meant when they talked about free love, that is, freedom to marry who they loved rather than someone chosen by their parents. The critic Murobuse, in his essay on the new chastity, declared that the day of sexual freedom was coming, for professional working women sought not economic freedom, but sexual freedom. He predicted that the free marriage movement would destroy the family regime that enslaved women.[76]
  40. Nevertheless, the advocates of free love in Josei distinguished ‘true free love’ from sexual promiscuity, condemning those who were mere pleasure-seekers. The novelist Miyachi Karoku, for example, declared himself to be a believer in free love and free marriage, but he observed that as these ideas were gaining currency, there were many men and ‘so-called modern girls’ who were hedonistically pursuing sexual pleasure rather than ‘true free love’. True free love, he believed, should lead to marriage.[77] Yamada Kuniko concurred, saying that she disliked love under the name of free love that was just for enjoyment. She also found distasteful the stories about fashionable free love affairs that were popular in the media, citing as examples reports about the actress Matsui Sumako’s relationship with the married playwright/director Shimamura Hōgetsu and the anarchist feminist Itō Noe’s leaving her husband for the anarchist leader Ōsugi Sakae.[78] Others, such as Fujii Kenjirō, argued that personal desires and lust needed to be kept in check for the good of society.[79]
  41. Like a number of other writers on the subject of romantic love, Miyachi also concluded that love was not all there was in life. The February 1924 issue devoted a whole section of eight articles to the question, ‘Is Love the Best Thing for Women?’, and half of the contributors answered that although love enriched one’s life and gave women strength as well as happiness, they did not believe in ‘love for love’s sake’ or love being supreme in life [ren’ai shijōshugi]. Oku Mumeo argued that the ideal love required that a man and woman give mutual recognition of their characters, but in order to achieve that ideal, women would have to get out of their position as parasites or just beautiful playthings. And even if the ideal love was achieved, one’s love life was not all there was to life.[80] Others discussed the question as it applied not just to women, but to men as well. Wada Tomiko argued that the ideal for women should not be lower than that for men, and therefore she asked whether men had better things to do in life, so that women only had love. Love in her view was one of the most beautiful things in life for both men and women, but not the only thing, nor the most important thing. Moreover, she argued that love could not exist without character [jinkaku], and unfortunately, in Japan most women were slaves without character. Like a number of other Josei writers, especially in this issue but also others, Wada hoped to enlighten the magazine’s women readers, encouraging them to develop their characters if they wanted to achieve love and the freedom and equality upon which it was premised.[81]
  42. The socialist Yamakawa Kikue also believed that it was important that people achieve a happy love life, for society as well as themselves as individuals, and she blamed the existing capitalist society and its morality for depriving people of their ‘right to love freely.’ However, she went on to remind readers that love was a personal matter that should be secondary to more important social obligations. Modern women, she argued, should not only be brave to achieve the satisfaction of their own love, but to change the society into a free and happy one. This meant that they should not adopt an attitude focused on a self-centred, hedonistic love for love’s sake.[82]
  43. Tsuchida Kyōson also took pains to make clear that anarchism did not mean chaos and free love was not promiscuity. In an article on love triangles, Tsuchida expressed his desire for the ideal society of anarchism in which free love would be possible. Like other writers discussed earlier, Tsuchida deployed foreign writers to support his position. In this case he cited Marx and Lenin as believers in anarchism as the ultimate form of socialism, and following that line of reasoning, he declared that the ultimate love life was anarchism in love, that is, love triangles. Tsuchida did not view anarchism as chaos, however, contrary to what he said were usual understandings of anarchism. Similarly, free love in his view was not a one-sided matter, but a completely free sexual union of two autonomous personalities. However, he noted that free love was only possible in the ideal society; it was not possible in the existing society based on private property with its monogamous marriage system.[83]
  44. Despite the fact that the leftists Yamakawa and Tsuchida argued against the selfish pursuit of love and sexual pleasure, other Josei contributors associated socialism with free love and often criticised it. The translation of the Soviet leader Alexandra Kollontai’s Red Love in 1927 aroused popular attention to free love as well as commentary in Josei.[84] Even before that, Fujii Kenjirō linked free love advocacy with socialists and opposed their rejection of the concept of chastity because he believed that the concept was necessary for keeping personal desires in check and thus for maintaining social order.[85] And while criticising the double standard for men and women, he also defended monogamy and maintenance of the idea of chastity on grounds of public health and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.[86] With Yamakawa and Fujii we have examples of ways in which a matter of individual sexual behaviour was transformed into a national social issue, although for opposite purposes.

  45. The contributors to Josei were attempting to change social norms. They advocated reforms in the legal system and marriage practices in order to eliminate the sexual double standard between men and women. They generally opposed existing practices of forced and arranged marriages in favour of ‘free marriage,’ believing that marriage should be based on love to ensure the happiness of both spouses. They argued that men should be chaste as well as women, and that husbands as well as wives should be faithful in marriage. And because individual happiness was important to them, they also argued that if a husband and wife’s feelings changed so that they no longer loved each other, then ‘free divorce’ should also be possible.
  46. However, there were limits to the social changes that most Josei writers promoted. They accepted biological limits to reform. In particular, although they argued for men’s chastity, they did not always expect that it was possible. They also accepted social limits to reform. Notably, most stopped well short of favouring the abolition of marriage. Although they wanted to break down traditional marriage practices based on perpetuating lineage, they did not want to undermine the stability of the social system. And although not pointed out specifically earlier, it should be clear that they sought to increase freedom within heterosexual relationships, not to legitimise homosexual or other erotic minority relationships. The establishment of the all-female Takarazuka Revue in 1913, followed by over a dozen other all-female revues in the 1920s, had stimulated public debate on gender and sexuality, and particularly homosexual practices, but these topics never formed part of the Josei debates on love.[87] This absence was possibly an editorial decision, reflecting the commercial interests of the sponsoring company and its targeted audience of middle and upper middle class women.
  47. Moreover, Josei writers regarded pursuit of even heterosexual sexual pleasure without love as selfish and hedonistic; it was not ‘true free love’. Further, although love itself was important, many argued that it was not the only thing in life. In fact, a number of Josei writers warned their women readers that ‘excessive love’ could lead to tragedy. Consequently, while seeking changes in the legal and social system to enable individuals to achieve ‘happiness’ in their lives, they did not celebrate radical individualism in sexual and gender relations. Although striving for individual autonomy, both socialists and liberals among Josei contributors feared the disorder that unfettered pursuit of sexual pleasure might bring.[88]
  48. Nevertheless, by devoting many articles to sex and sexual morals, the magazine reflected issues of concern and changes in attitudes that were taking place in Japan during the 1920s. The magazine’s contributors actively promoted changes in sexual norms by broadening debate and by disseminating ideas and values from Europe and the United States among a new generation of educated women. In addition, promotion of the ‘new chastity’ and ‘free love’ was linked to demands for reform of marriage, the private property system, and inequalities between men and women. This shows how sexual politics, gender politics and proposals for socio-economic reform were intricately intertwined in responses to the social dislocations of modernity. The new morality that Josei writers advocated was not only about sex, but also women’s role and status in Japanese society.


    I would like to acknowledge support for the research conducted for this study from an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant, particularly support for my research assistant Ikuko Sorensen. I am also appreciative of the comments and suggestions made by two referees.
    Note: Japanese names appear in Japanese order, that is, surname first.

    [1] Gayle S Rubin, ‘Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,’ in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David Halperin, New York and London: Routledge, 1993, pp. 3-44, p. 4.

    [2] Rubin, ‘Thinking Sex,’ pp. 12, 23; Purnima Mankekar and Louisa Schein, ‘Introduction: Mediated Transnationalism and Social Erotics,’ in Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 63, no. 2 (May 2004), pp. 357-65, p. 357.

    [3] Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society, London and New York: Longman, second edition 1989.

    [4] On the construction of this ideology in the late Meiji period, see Sharon Nolte and Sally Hastings, ‘The Meiji State’s Policy Toward Women, 1890-1910,’ in Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, ed. Gail Bernstein, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University of California Press, 1991, pp. 151-74.

    [5] For a more detailed discussion of the magazine and a comparison with other women’s magazines of the period, see Kazumi Ishii’s article in this issue.

    [6] Sanki Hiroko, ‘Taishō-ki no josei zasshi: hataraku onna no kikanshi o chūshin ni’ in Taishō-ki no josei zasshi, ed. Kindai Josei Bunkashi Kenkyūkai, Tokyo: ōzorasha, 1996, p. 4.

    [7] ‘Kindai zasshigun o yomu,’ in an-an (Sept. 1983), p. 51.

    [8] Tsuganesawa Toshihiro, ‘Hajime’ in Zasshi Josei, vol. 48, ed. Tsurumi Shunsuke, Tokyo: Nihon Tosho Sentā, 1993, p. 16.

    [9] Vera Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 18-19. Mori Arinori, who became Education Minister in 1885, advocated improvements in women’s status in marriage in his contributions to the society journal, e.g, ‘On Wives and Concubines, Part Three’ in Meiroku Zasshi: Journal of the Japanese Enlightenment, trans. William Braisted, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976, pp. 189-91.

    [10] Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan, pp. 46-50; Sharon Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983, pp. 165, 180, 184, 188. See also, Laurel Rasplica Rodd, ‘Yosano Akiko and the Taishō Debate over the “New Woman”,’ in Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, ed. Gail Bernstein, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Oxford: University of California Press, 1991, pp. 175-98.

    [11] For example, Chūō kōron ran a special issue on the ‘woman question’ in July 1913.

    [12] Birth control pioneer Ishimoto Shizue devoted an article for the January 1922 issue to arguments justifying the concept of birth limitation, including both practical benefits for improving the quality of life for individual families and broader social benefits for solving the nation’s population problems, but the style of this article did not typify most on the topic. Ishimoto Shizue, ‘Sanji seigen no gōriteki hitsuyō,’ Shufu no tomo (1 Jan 1922): 16-18.

    [13] For example, Woman reporter, ‘Sanji chōsetsu ni seikō no fujin o tou,’ in Shufu no tomo (May 1927): pp. 67-72; Aoki Chōko, 'Ninshin chōsetsu ni seikō shita fujin no jikken,' in Shufu no tomo (Aug. 1932): pp. 310-21.

    [14] Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, vol. 1, trans. by Robert Hurley, New York: Vintage Books, 1990, pp. 147-48.

    [15] Rubin, ‘Thinking Sex,’ pp. 12, 23. Regarding Japan specifically, Narita Ryūichi has pointed out the large role that women’s magazines played in expanding the discourse on sex and sexual phenomena in the 1920s. He utilises evidence from Fujin kōron and Shufu no tomo, but not Josei. Narita Ryūichi, ‘The Overflourishing of Sexuality in 1920s Japan,’ in Gender and Japanese History: Religion and Customs/The Body and Sexuality, vol. 1, eds Wakita Haruko, Anne Bouchy, and Ueno Chizuko, Osaka: Osaka University Press, 1999, pp. 345-70.

    [16] Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society, pp. 2-4; Rubin, ‘Thinking Sex,’ pp. 10-11.

    [17] John Gagnon and William Simon, Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality, Chicago: Aldine Publishing Compnay, 1973, p. 45.

    [18] Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society, p. 28.

    [19] Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society, p. 32.

    [20] Rubin, ‘Thinking Sex,’ p. 4.

    [21] Rubin focuses on these periods in English and American history in ‘Thinking Sex’. On the intertwining of contests over sexuality and modernity in late imperial Russia, see Laura Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siècle Russia, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1992.

    [22] The Meiji government extended legal recognition to concubines in 1872, provoking fierce criticism from liberals that eventually led to rescinding of the regulation in 1882. Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan p. 17.

    [23] Harald Fuess, Divorce in Japan: Family, Gender, and the State, 1600-2000, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004, pp. 52-3; Kano Masanao, Senzen, ‘Ie’ no shisō , Tokyo: Sōbunsha, 1983, p. 56.

    [24] Quoted in Fuess, Divorce in Japan, p. 5.

    [25] The view of the English legal scholar J.E. de Becker, quoted in Fuess, Divorce in Japan, p. 124.

    [26] Fuess, Divorce in Japan, pp. 57-58.

    [27] Fuess, Divorce in Japan, pp. 54, 58.

    [28] Fuess, Divorce in Japan, p. 53.

    [29] Robert Smith and Ella Wiswell, The Women of Suye Mura, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1982, pp. 168-69.

    [30] See Inoue Miyo, ‘Haishō ka kazei ka,’ in Josei, (Sept. 1927), pp. 114-17.

    [31] For statistics on the decline of divorce by age groups, see Fuess, Divorce in Japan, p. 136.

    [32] For example, see Hirai Masuko, ‘Jinsei no shujutsu to shite,’ in Josei, (Sept. 1927), p. 113.

    [33] Fuess, Divorce in Japan, p. 134.

    [34] Murakami Hideo, 'Seiyoku no yūgika o nan to miru,’ in Josei, (Sept. 1922), pp. 140-45.

    [35] Fujii (1872-1931) was an ethics scholar at Kyoto Imperial University. Fujii Kenjirō, 'Teisō no kannen narabi ni sore no ichimondai,’ in Josei, (July 1923), pp. 94-108.

    [36] Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society, pp. 148-49.

    [37] For example, an advertisement for Ellis’s Seiteki tokuchō appeared in the Feb. 1914 issue of Chūō kōron; also, Havelock Ellis, Sei no shinri, 20 vols., translated by Masuda Ichirō, Tokyo: Nichigetsusha, 1927.

    [38] Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society, pp. 147-52.

    [39] Fujii, 'Teisō no kannen,’ p. 100.

    [40] Miyake Yasuko, 'Soshō ni arawareta danshi no teisō ni tsuite,' in Josei, (Oct. 1926), p. 97.

    [41] Sugimori Kōjirō, 'Jinsei ni okeru ren'ai no ichi,’ in Josei, (July 1923), p. 86.

    [42] Sugimori, ‘Jinsei ni okeru ren’ai’, pp. 93-97.

    [43] See Yasuko Claremont’s article in this issue on Chiba’s role in promoting women’s autonomy through Western literature in Josei.

    [44] Chiba Kameo, 'Otto no teisō mondai -- otto ni mo teisō no gimu ga aru to no shinhōritsu ga dekita,’ in Josei, (September 1927), pp. 100-01. For a transcript of the 20 July 1926 ruling, see Nihon fujin mondai shiryō shūsei, vol. 5, Kazoku seido, ed. Yuzawa Yasuhiko, Tokyo: Domesu Shuppan, 1976, pp. 749-53. The Tokyo Asahi Shinbun reported on the ruling in its 29 May 1927 edition, p. 2.

    [45] Chiba, ‘Otto no teisō mondai,’ p. 100. Yamada Waka also considered it to be a significant new ruling. Yamada Waka, ‘Shinpo no katei to shite no teisō mushi,’ in Josei, (Oct. 1926), p. 112.

    [46] Fujii, ‘Teisō no kannen’, p. 94. Fujii explained that teisō had two meanings, ‘celibacy’ and ‘chastity/purity’, but that only ‘chastity’ was a current social or national issue. He defined ‘chastity/purity’ as the moral principle of a man and woman in a special relationship, such as a married couple, not having a relationship [aisetsu] with a man/woman other than their partner (p. 101).

    [47] For the grounds for a judicial divorce, see J.E. de Becker, The Principles and Practice of the Civil Code of Japan, vol. 2, London: Butterworth and Co., Bell Yard, Temple Bar, 1921, pp. 561-63.

    [48] For the minutes of the special committee, see Yuzawa (ed.), Nihon fujin mondai shiryō shūsei, vol. 5, pp. 283-327.

    [49] Igeta Ryōji, 'Meiji Minpō to josei no kenri,' in Nihon josei-shi, vol 4, Kindai, ed. Josei-shi Sōgō Kenkyūkai, Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 1982, p. 74.

    [50] Hirai Masuko, ‘Jinsei no shujutsu to shite,’ in Josei, (Sept. 1927), p. 111.

    [51] Ikuta Hanayo, ‘Danshi no teisō no minamoto to naru mono,’ in Josei, (Sept. 1927), p. 117.

    [52] Yamada Kuniko, ‘Josei no tame ni kōhei ni,’ in Josei, (Sept. 1927), p. 125.

    [53] Yamada, ‘Shinpo no katei to shite,’ p. 112.

    [54] Fujii Kenjirō, 'Jiyū ren'ai oyobi teisōjō no nijū hyōjun no mondai,’ in Josei, (Nov. 1923), p. 55.

    [55] Fujii, 'Teisō no kannen,’ p. 106; Hirai, ‘Jinsei no shujutsu’, p. 113.

    [56] Murobuse Kōshin, 'Shinteisōron,’ in Josei (July 1925), pp. 18-21.

    [57] Murobuse, ‘Shinteisōron,’ p. 24.

    [58] Fuse Katsuji, ‘Roshia no onna,’ in Josei, (October 1924), pp. 312-13, 317-18.

    [59] See Article 772 of the Code in de Becker, Principles and Practice, p. 541 or Nakano Bunko, ‘Minpō daiyonhen,’, accessed 31 August 2004.

    [60] Niizuma Kan, 'Akebono wa kurai,’ in Josei, (October 1926), pp. 101-02.

    [61] Niizuma, ‘Akebono,’ p. 105.

    [62] Niizuma, ‘Akebono,’ p. 107.

    [63] Miyake Yasuko, 'Betsu ni ikiru michi wa ikura mo aru,' in Josei, (Jan. 1924), p. 202; Raichō, 'Kono shakaiaku no osoroshisa o shire,’ in Josei, (Jan. 1924), p. 205.

    [64] Wada Tomiko, 'Waga musume no mondai to shite kangaeyo,’ in Josei, (Jan. 1924), p.190; Oku Mumeo, 'Fujin mo shukumeironsha de nai kagiri,’ in Josei ,(Jan. 1924), p. 200.

    [65] Okagami Ryū, ‘Dōteki na teisō kannen kara mireba,’ in Josei, (Jan. 1924), pp. 191-92.

    [66] Yamakawa Kikue, ‘Nijū no imi o motsu fujin no shitsugyō,’ in Josei, (Jan. 1924), pp. 194-95.

    [67] Yamakawa Kikue, ‘Shihonshugi no shakai to seiteki hanzai,’ in Josei, (Feb. 1928), pp. 138-42.

    [68] On middle class working women, see Margit Nagy, ‘Middle-Class Working Women During the Interwar Years,’ in Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, ed. Gail Bernstein, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Oxford: University of California Press, 1991, pp. 199-216; Susan Newell, ‘Women Primary School Teachers and the State in Interwar Japan,’ in Society and the State in Interwar Japan, ed. Elise K. Tipton, New York and London: Routledge, 1997, pp. 17-41; Barbara Sato, The New Japanese Woman: Modernity, Media and Women in Interwar Japan, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003, pp. 114-51.

    [69] Murobuse Kōshin, ‘Danjoai no rinri,’ in Josei, (June 1926), p. 23.

    [70] Ikeda Eiko, ‘Teisō ni in’ei o tsukuru mono wa nani,’ in Josei, (Jan. 1924), pp. 197-98.

    [71] Quoted in Sato, New Japanese Woman, p. 124.

    [72] Quoted in Sato, New Japanese Woman, p. 124.

    [73] Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, ‘Chijin no ai,’ in Josei, (Nov. 1924-July 1925); Naomi, trans. Anthony Chambers, Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1985.

    [74] Satomi Ton, ‘Yotsuba no umagoyashi,’ in Josei, (Sept. 1923), p. 182.

    [75] For a discussion of the concept of romantic love in the mass-circulation general interest magazine Taiyō during the Meiji period, see Leith Morton, ‘The Concept of Romantic Love in the Taiyō Magazine 1895-1905,’ in Japan Review, vol. 8 (1997), pp. 79-103. On views of love in women’s magazines, see Barbara Hamill Sato, ‘Fujin zasshi in arawareta ren’aikan,’ in Kindai shomin seikatsu shi, vol. 9, Ren’ai, kekkon, katei, ed. Minami Hiroshi, Barbara Hamill Sato, and Ueda Yasuo, Tokyo: San’ichi Shobō, 1986, pp. 532-36. A translation of a book on companionate marriage by the American judge and reformer, Benjamin Barr Lindsey, was published in 1930 and created a sensation. Minami Hiroshi, ‘Sōsetsu,’ in Minami,, Kindai shomin seikatsu shi, p. 541. Lindsey’s book, Companionate Marriage, was co-authored with Wainwright Evans and published in 1927, site accessed 23 September 2004.

    [76] Murobuse, ‘Shinteisōron,’ pp. 24-27.

    [77] Miyachi Karoku, ‘Ren’ai wa jinsei no zenbu de nai,’ in Josei, (July 1927), pp. 92-94.

    [78] Yamada Kuniko, ‘Jiyū ren’ai dassen hihan,’ in Josei (July 1927), pp. 95-97.

    [79] Fujii, 'Teisō no kannen,’ pp. 107-08; Fujii, ‘Jiyū ren’ai’, Nov. 1923, pp. 58, 64.

    [80] Oku Mumeo, ‘Saijō seikatsu no hitotsu de wa arieyō,’ in Josei, (Feb. 1924), pp. 94-95. Chūjō Yuriko agreed, saying that thinking of love between a man and woman as the only kind of love and essential for life was ‘too unnatural’. Chūjō Yuriko, ‘Ai wa shinpi na shūdōjō,’ in Josei, (Feb. 1924), pp. 82-84.

    [81] Wada Tomiko, ‘Jinkaku naki tokoro ni ren’ai nashi,’ in Josei, (Feb. 1924), pp. 85-87.

    [82] Yamakawa Kikue, ‘Ren’ai ni dake yūkan de atte wa naranu,’ in Josei, (Feb. 1924), pp. 97-99.

    [83] Tsuchida Kyōson, ‘Ren’ai sankaku kankeiron,’ in Josei (Nov. 1922), pp. 79, 81-83.

    [84] E.g., Kamichika Ichiko, ‘Atarashiki ren’ai no riron ni tsuite, Korontai no “Akai koi” o yomu,’ in Josei , (March 1928), pp. 27-33.

    [85] Fujii, ‘Teisō no kannen,’ p. 108.

    [86] Fujii, ‘Jiyū ren’ai,’ p. 64.

    [87] For a discussion of that discourse on sexuality and gender ambivalence, see Jennifer Robertson, Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1998; Donald Roden, ‘Taishō Culture and the Problem of Gender Ambivalence’ in Culture and Identity: Japanese Intellectuals during the Interwar Years, ed. J. Thomas Rimer, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990, pp. 37-55.

    [88] In these respects, Josei writers exhibit interesting similarities with the liberal intelligentsia of late imperial Russia studied by Engelstein. Englestein, Keys to Happiness.


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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