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Yoshioka Yayoi

Yoshioka Yayoi
Born April 29, 1871(1871-04-29)
Kakegawa, Shizuoka, Japan
Died May 22, 1959 (aged 88)
Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japan
Other names Washiyama Yayoi
Occupation Physician, Educator, Women's rights activist
In this Japanese name, the family name is Yoshioka.

Yoshioka Yayoi (吉岡彌生 ?, April 29, 1871 - May 22, 1959) was a physician and women's rights activist, who founded the Tokyo Women's Medical University (東京女子医科大学 Tōkyō Joshi Ika Daigaku ?) in 1900, as the first medical school for women in Japan. She was also known as Washiyama Yayoi.



Yoshioka was born in what is now part of Kakegawa city, Shizuoka prefecture, where her father, a physician, advocated primary education for the village children. Yayoi grew up in the 19th century when women's education was frowned upon. She graduated from the Saisei-Gakusha school of medicine, and received the 27th medical license granted to a woman in Japan. Realizing the difficulty of this career path for women in Japan, she resolved to start her own school of medicine, which she did before she was 30 years old.

The graduates of the Tokyo Women's Medical School (renamed the Tokyo Women's Medical University in 1998) were not allowed to practice medicine until 1912, when the Japanese government permitted women to enroll in the national medical examination. By 1930, almost a thousand women had gone through Yoshioka's school.

Yayoi was politically active through her life. With many of her colleagues, she advocated sex education.[1] In the 1930s, Yayoi was involved in the Japanese women's suffrage movement and the "Clean Elections" movement in Japan. In 1938, the Japanese government appointed Yayoi and ten other female leaders to the "Emergency Council to Improve the Nation's Ways of Living," a pre-war mobilization effort. She was a leading figure in various wartime patriotic women's associations and youth associations. After the end of the war, she turned again to organizations promoting the education of women.

Yayoi was awarded the Order of the Precious Crown in 1955, and the Order of the Sacred Treasure posthumously in 1959.

The Yoshioka Memorial Prize was established to honor Yoshioka's successors. The Japan Medical Women's Association has named its two awards after Yoshioka Yayoi and Ogino Ginko (the first woman to be licensed as a physician in Japan).

Yayoi was depicted on an 80-yen Japanese commemorative postage stamp, on September 20, 2000 together with Naruse Jinzo and Tsuda Umeko. A memorial museum dedicated to Yayoi exists in Kakegawa, Shizuoka.


  1. ^ Sabine Frühstück, Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan, University of California Press (2003) ISBN 0-520-23548-7.


  • Sally A. Hastings, "Yoshioka Yayoi", in Doctors, Nurses and Medical Practitioners: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, ed. by Lois N. Magner (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997), pp. 315-319.
  • Yoshioka Yayoi, Yoshioka Yayoi den (Tokyo: Nihon Tosho Center, 1998); reprint from 1941 first edition.
  • Yoshioka's papers are collected at the University Archives, Tokyo Women's Medical University

External links

  • Yayoi Yoshioka, excerpt from "My Vision in Establishing a Women's Medical University and the Significance of Its Existence" (1958)

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