Gender and Post-War Relief: Support for War-Widowed Mothers in Occupied Japan (1945-52)

Citation:

Takenaka, Akiko. 2016. “Gender and Post-War Relief: Support for War-Widowed Mothers in Occupied Japan (1945-52).” Gender & History 28 (3): 775–93. 

Author: Akiko Takenaka

Abstract:

This article analyses the gender implications that emerged through welfare support for the war‐bereaved in post‐Asia‐Pacific War Japan. It follows the foundation, activities and dissolution of the Federation of Bereaved War Victims, the first support group for the war‐bereaved that initially began as an organisation for military widows. After its dissolution, members of the Federation went on to create two separate groups – the Victims’ Federation and Widows’ Federation – whose members, scope and objectives presented stark gendered divisions. By examining this divide, and by analysing the earlier histories of the organisations, this article explores the relationships among gender, military, death and bereavement, and post‐war relief. The article pays particular attention to the tensions and negotiations among various interest groups, including military widows, women widowed from other causes, feminist activists, male lawmakers, bereaved fathers and the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. I place the dissolution of the Federation in its social and political contexts and analyse its relationship to the contemporaneous discussions on female citizenship. In particular, I focus on two areas mobilised by Japanese feminist activists since the early twentieth century: suffrage and motherhood. The short history of the Federation provides a means to examine the reconfiguration of the connection between gender and citizenship during the demilitarisation and democratisation processes that occurred in occupied Japan.

Topics: Citizenship, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Post-Conflict Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2016

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