Margaret Sanger in Japan

Contraceptive Diplomacy

From Stanford University Press Blog by Aiko Takeuchi-Demirci author Contraceptive Democracy: Reproduction Politics and Imperial Ambitions in the United States and Japan:

Margaret Sanger’s first visit to Japan in 1922 stirred public hype in Japan. Comparing it to the “black ship”—the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry’s fleet in 1853 that opened Japan to foreign trade—the Japanese showed a mix of fear, excitement, and confusion over the American mission to introduce Japan to Western practices and ideas of reproductive control. How and to what extent did Sanger impact the reproductive landscape in Japan? What kind of methods were introduced and did they really reach Japanese women? A transnational history of birth control reveals the politics surrounding contraceptive technology and regulations—how the spread of birth control ideas and the reduction of fertility did not necessarily guarantee reproductive rights and choice.

After World War I, turmoil gripped Japan as riots and protests among laborers and farmers erupted across the country. Some Japanese liberals and socialists attributed these social issues to rapid industrialization and Westernization in Japan. A number of Japanese activists traveled or immigrated abroad to study first-hand socialist ideas; some of them became involved in the socialist community in New York City, where they met Sanger. It was this transnational socialist network that eventually brought Sanger to Japan.

Read the rest of the article at the Stanford University Press Blog

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Categories: Asian History, United States History, Women's History

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