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In this Japanese name, the family name is Yajima.
Kajiko yajima.jpg

Yajima Kajiko (矢嶋 楫子 ?, 1833 - 1925) was the founder of the Women's Reform Society and president of Japan's Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). An educator and Christian activist, she vigorously advanced the cause for the education of women in Japan.

Yajima came from an influential farmer's family. She had divorced an alcoholic man, and was strongly influenced by American missionary women. Since teaching was one of the few paying jobs available to women of her time, she became a teacher for the newly established public school system in Tokyo following her divorce. She gave birth to a daughter out of wedlock, but she kept the birth a secret and did not marry the father; instead, she raised her as an adopted daughter on her own with her own salary. She later transferred to the Presbyterian mission school because it provided her with twice the income as her position with the Tokyo school system. It was there were she converted to Christianity and became the acting principal in 1880.

Yajima worked with Toyoju Sasaki, the secretary of Japan's WCTU, worked together to advocate the reform of feudalistic customs which subjugated Japan to the West and women to men. Yajima in particular advocated for temperance due to her brief marriage to an alcoholic. Both worked towards the elimination of prostitution, as well as the elimination of geishas and concubines.

References

  • Yasutake, R. (2004). Transnational women's activism: the United States, Japan, and Japanese Immigrant Communities in California, 1859-1920. New York: NYU Press.

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