Plan of Investigation
The Constitution of Japan contains articles about equality between men and women but many times, law is not properly enforced or enacted. Keeping this in mind, the true extent to which the federal legislation actually augmented women's freedoms needs to be analyzed. This is why the subject of my research is, "To what extent did the Japanese Constitution result in greater freedom and increased rights for Japanese women in the mid twentieth century?" The scope of this research is valuable because it examines the development of feminism in Japan, which empowered women and explains the development of equal rights. The historical significance is that it can provide helpful information that can be applied to studying current global issues in which inequality between the sexes is visible. Journal articles about and federal bills of the Japanese Constitution will be investigated to analyze the conditions promised on paper, while primary accounts of Japanese women's lives will be examined to discover the true extent in which these new laws were enforced and how much independence the women genuinely gained. Furthermore, general conditions of women in the several decades after the proclamation of the Constitution will also be analyzed since such legislation can take several years to alter society.
Summary of Evidence
In 1887, during the Meiji period in Japan, multiple laws existed that limited the abilities and rights of women. For example, women did not have inheritance rights or suffrage. Women were not trained for careers and therefore could not obtain work that interested them. It was in this era of Japanese history that a rigid and inflexible class system was in place and these conditions continued far beyond 1887. The Mainichi, a Japanese newspaper, commented during the 1920's that, "Japan maltreats and insults her women to a graver extent than any other country on the globe."
Nevertheless, after World War II, the American people occupied Japan and they took it upon themselves to revise the Meiji Constitution after the destruction of the war. However, when the staff began to revise the document, they ended up drafting an entirely new constitution, which came into effect on May 3, 1947. It has governed Japanese affairs ever since without any amendments or changes.
The Japanese Constitution has several chapters that each deal with different areas of the state. Specifically, Chapter III relates to the rights of Japanese people. Article 26 states that "marriage shall be based on the consent of both parties and that the husband and wife will have equal rights as a unit." It also writes that, "laws will be enacted from the essential equality of the sexes."
With the equality promised in the Japanese Constitution, female suffrage came in 1947, public secondary schools became coeducational, and women's universities were opened. A Labor Standards Law was passed in 1947, which covered equal pay, working...