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  • The Benefits and Lessons of Two Decades with U.S.–Japan Women's Journal
  • Sally A. Hastings (bio)

I began working as an associate editor for the U.S.–Japan Women's Journal (USJWJ) after I finished my book on Neighborhood and Nation in Tokyo, 1905–1937 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995) and had tenure at Purdue University, at a stage of my career when my own livelihood as a scholar was secure and when I was in a position to help others. Universities repeatedly ask scholars to account for their time in terms of research, teaching, and service, with editing falling into the service category. Editing USJWJ, however, has played a role in shaping my research and has contributed in myriad ways to my teaching.

From the mid-1990s on, I have visited Japan at least once a year and have made Tokyo the site of most of my research and writing activities. Anne Walthall, a graduate school friend, and Akio Iwasaki, a former student, provided the encouragement to begin this pattern, which has been further encouraged by various friends who live in Japan, but my work as an editor of USJWJ has been an integral part of establishing Japan as one of the geographical locations of my lived experience. I have given research talks at the Jōsai University's Togane campus and have visited the Kioichō campus many times.

The journal has contributed in many ways to my teaching at Purdue and at universities in Japan. Thanks to my responsibilities as an editor, I have read in a disciplined [End Page 8] way many articles on topics that might otherwise have escaped my notice. For example, I have included information from USJWJ articles on such current topics as "Womenomics," entertainment visas, and the right (and lack thereof) of women to use their birth names after marriage in my modern history courses that end in the present moment. Another example is Rose Bundy's article on "Court Women in Poetry Contests: The Tentoku Yonen Dairi Utaawase (no. 33, 2008), about a poetry contest held at court in 960, which has enhanced my knowledge of The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari). And any number of articles published in USJWJ document how women, both individuals and women as a category, were integral to the Meiji Restoration (those that spring to mind are in the double issue nos. 30–31, a special issue on Meiji). In addition, many USJWJ articles have drawn from the archives of Japanese women's magazines of the 1920s through 1940s. Yet another example is the article by Hiroko Hirakawa (no. 23, 2002) reprinted here, which draws readers' attention to Kanba Michiko, a woman killed in a 1960 Ampo demonstration, and analyzes how the journalistic discourses about her death commented on prevailing notions of women as revolutionaries, students, daughters, and mothers. I remain grateful to all the authors who submitted their research to the journal and who have thus added to our collective knowledge about women in Japan. You have enriched my personal knowledge as well as my teaching.

Scholarly journals, like other scholarly institutions, are instruments of both screening and educating. This journal, which has high standards with respect to original research, has been willing, when necessary, to assist authors in expressing their findings in publishable form. Editing USJWJ has been one of my most gratifying teaching experiences. I have found that undergraduate students vary in how willing they are to listen to advice. Graduate students sometimes seem remarkably resistant to instruction. Assistant professors, eager to publish, listen to editorial advice and are highly appreciative.

Very early in my association with the journal, I learned to appreciate editing as a form of teaching. This first occurred when I examined a submission and decided, in my role as a screener, that it was inadequate and should not be published. When, however, I found that a scholar whom I respected had taken the time to write five single-spaced pages explaining how to improve the article, I realized that I should not squander the reviewer's investment in producing better scholarship about women. This incident marked the beginning of one of the happiest lessons I have learned from...