With the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in the late 1860s, a new center of power emerged (or re-emerged) in Japan, the Meiji Emperor. The lengthy restoration of the imperial fortress was followed by a complete economic, political and social restructuring.
In the decades that followed, Japan grew at an unprecedented rate, and its economy reached heights unprecedented in Asia. But this enormous growth also came at the expense of the lower classes of Japanese society – women, homeless, landless workers, prostitutes and farmers. In particular, Japan’s popular industrial growth narrative in the late 19th century came at the expense of the large workforce of women who were the vanguard of Japan’s industrial working class.
Some women started unionizing because of their exposure to the American labor movement. In the late 19th century, Japan experienced sporadic small-scale strikes, especially after the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).
With all of these factors in mind, it’s important to note how frustrating the situation can be. Forcing large groups of women who claim to be “docile” and “obedient” to go on strike against the authorities; claiming benevolent guidance from their employers is clearly a farce.
PIC: Inquiries Journal, History Today, Not Even Past