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CHANGING LIVES: The ‘Postwar’ in Japanese Women’s Autobiographies and Memoirs (Ronald P. Loftus)

ISBN: 978-0-924304-69-9. 216 pages. Paperback.

CHANGING LIVES: The ‘Postwar’ in Japanese Women’s Autobiographies and Memoirs presents the reader with substantial translations from memoirs and autobiographies by Japanese women. The women who appear in the book are far from household names in Japan: Okabe Itsuko (nonfiction writer and cultural critic), Shinya Eikô (stage and screen actress), Yoshitake Teruko (activist, historian), Kishino Junko (newspaper reporter, adjunct professor of African-American literature), and Kanamori Toshie (reporter, Kanagawa Prefecture grass roots activist) to name but a few. The voices found in Changing Lives touch upon key moments in a dynamic and tumultuous era in Japanese history as witnessed by these women. These events include the emperor’s radio address at the end of World War II, the first Japanese election in which women could vote, the Ampo Movement, and the Women’s Lib Movement of the 1970s where we encounter two of the women speaking directly about the process of developing their “feminine consciousness.”Changing Lives will be of interest to students and teachers in multiple disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, and women’s self-writing.

Changing Lives is a welcome addition to Japanese women’s history, wartime history, postwar history, and the history of opposition movements in Japan. Constructing the “postwar” on the basis of the wartime era, Ron Loftus offers fresh insight into the gendered nature of Japanese people’s wartime and postwar experiences. His translations and analyses of the self-writing of “average” (albeit professional) women show how their lives helped frame the postwar era, thereby expanding our notion of who made history.” — Barbara Molony, Walter E. Schmidt, S.J. Professor History, Santa Clara University. Co-editor, Gendering Modern Japanese History

“Ron Loftus’ superb translations from Japanese women’s memoirs give us an immediate and vibrant sense of life in postwar Japan. Changing Lives reveals how women came to terms with war, defeat, and occupation, and their determined struggles against persistent gender inequality. Loftus situates each memoir within the author’s life, the women’s movement, and the broader history of postwar Japan. Above all, Changing Lives offers portraits of courage and stubborn resilience. It is a book that will inspire students and instructors alike.” — Jan Bardsley, Associate Professor of Japanese Humanities, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Author, The Bluestockings of Japan