Women Who Went to Manchuria: A Historical Background of an International “Save the Women” Campaign after the Russo-Japanese War
“Movement of people” takes a distinctively different form depending on the gender of the “people”. Looking at modern Japanese history, the experiences of women crossing the national boundaries have always had different meanings attached to them than of men. Japanese newspapers in the Meiji era called women who moved overseas “Mikko-fu (woman smuggled abroad)” or “Zaigai-baiin-fu (overseas prostitute)” and reported that these women were abducted from Japan for prostitution in a foreign country. Although such Japanese women were sent all over the world, it is said that the most common destination was cities in East Asia.
This presentation focuses on the history of international “relief work” for Japanese women in Manchuria around post Russo-Japanese War. At that time, prostitution of Japanese women living overseas was widely recognized as a significant problem of Japanese society. This presentation will analyze how the movement of women to Manchuria became a political issue, what kind of anti-prostitution campaigns were promoted, and what historical background was behind these issues. The following two historical materials were primarily used in this research: Articles on Dalian, where the anti-prostitution campaign was originally launched, in Mansyu-nichinichi-sinbun (Manchu Daily Newspaper) , the most influential Japanese newspaper in Manchuria, and Toki-no-koe (The War Cry) , the bulletin of the Salvation Army. Being a Christian group, Salvation Army was one of the strongest promoters of the campaign.
Through this historical study on movement of women in the Meiji era, I would like to put forth suggestions to resolve today’s problems of violence on women that were relocated for prostitution.
Yoko Hayashi (Ph.D.) is an assistant professor of Japanese studies in the Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University. Her main research subject is the Japanese modern history of prostitution and sexual violence, especially on licensed prostitution systems and international movement against licensed prostitution.