In 1902 the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) petitioned the Japanese government to stop rewarding good deeds with the bestowal of sake cups. Alcohol production and consumption, its members argued, harmed individuals, endangered public welfare, and wasted vital resources. This campaign was part of a wide-ranging reform program to eliminate prostitution, eradicate drinking, spread Christianity, and improve the lives of women. As Elizabeth Dorn Lublin shows, members did not passively accept and propagate government policy but felt a duty to shape it by defining social problems and influencing opinion. Certain their beliefs and reforms were essential to Japan's advancement, members couched their calls for change in the rhetorical language of national progress. Ultimately, the WCTU’s activism belies received notions of women’s public involvement and political engagement in Meiji Japan.
About the author
Elizabeth Dorn Lublin is an assistant professor of history at Wayne State University.
The author makes a valuable contribution to Japanese and feminist history...revising the traditional view that women were not involved in politics during this period. Highly recommended. All collections in modern Japanese history and the history of feminism in East Asia