Since the late 19th century, the growth of feminist consciousness in Japan was interwoven with the internal Westernization. In the same way, there were movements to acquire women’s suffrage with the intellectual and democratic atmosphere after WWI in Japan. However, Japan instituted only adult male suffrage in 1925, and political prohibitions on women remained (but the first female suffrage in Japan happened in 1987 only for three months in Kochi prefecture).
Later totalitarianism and militaristic policies weakened these movements, and women were involved in Japanese imperial and colonial desires. It was only the Japanese’s defeat and US occupation in 1945 that women achieved suffrage (but this winning of women’s suffrage brought a different problem that non-Japanese citizen from the former Japanese colonies lost their ballot, which still remains as an issue regarding citizenship in Japan). Since then, the certain demands for women’s emancipation have been granted by the governments concerned with capitalist growth, while undesired changes for women’s liberation are blocked.
Until today, many people in Japan have tended not to talk about these issues, having a fear that feminism could get them into trouble since the use of the term “feminism” has historically been distorted by the authorities as well as the mass media.
This poster was first made for the exhibition Nothing Less! curated by Saloon Wien (Julia Hartmann and Aline Lara Rezendeulia), which celebrated Austria’s 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage.
Nothing Less! 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage
6 September – 22