Making Patriotic Mothers: Images of Motherhood and the Role of Government-Sponsored Women's Organizations in Japan's Home Front / 愛国の母をつくる: 銃後の護りにおける母性像と官製婦人団体の役割
- U.S.-Japan Women's Journal
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Number 55/56, 2019
- pp. 55-79
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Regardless of the impending wartime conditions, Japanese women devoted themselves to support the nation's war effort. They responded to the excessive demands made by the state to achieve spiritual and material mobilization for the war. In interwar and wartime Japan, the government-sponsored women's patriotic organizations were the main platforms for women to demonstrate their patriotism and support for the nation.
Although the scholarship of recent decades has examined women's roles in protecting the home front, few studies have addressed the relationship between the development of women's organizations and the transformation of patriotic motherhood as depicted in school textbooks. I examine three women's organizations—the Patriotic Women's Association (Aikoku fujin kai), the Greater Japan National Defense Women's Association (Dai Nihon kokubō fujin kai), and the Greater Japan Women's Association (Dai Nihon kokubō fujin kai)—to understand the state's expectations on women, as promoted through images of patriotic motherhood in school textbooks, and to explore how women developed their roles in home defense, defined ideal motherhood, and transformed themselves into patriotic mothers.
While the state utilized women's organizations to mobilize women to support the home front, these organizations actively developed the new images of patriotic motherhood that sometimes differed from those promoted by the state. Moreover, participation in wartime women's organizations brought Japanese women a certain degree of liberation in their social lives. Nevertheless, the ideal womanhood these organizations developed and scrupulously dedicated to the home front resulted in reinforcing the state's image of self-sacrificial patriotic motherhood espoused in prewar school textbooks.