Today is the beginning of a vacation week known as Golden Week. here in Japan.
There are a bunch of national holidays crammed together...
(Some people got to start their Golden Week from April 25 (Sat) giving them a 12 day vacation. For the extra "lucky" people their Golden Week will end on the 10th of May, giving them a 16 day vacation!)
Today is "just a Saturday" but tomorrow the real national holidays begin.
Tomorrow will be "Kenpo Kinen Bi" 憲法記念日 in Japan... Constitution Day, that is.
This day reminds me, believe it or not...of an American woman, Beate Sirota Gordon.
The constitution went into effect on May 3rd 1947.
There are several different accounts that I have heard of but the dominant view is that a group of Americans in Japan were assembled to draft the new constitution.
Japanese officials were also making their own draft of the constitution but since it was expected to have a "strong right wing bias" the group of Americans had an objective to "get the Japanese to change their ideas on constitutional revision" (according to B.S. Gordon's book).
They had one week to make the draft. Beate, then 22 years old was the only woman in the group of about a dozen GHQs.
She was told "You're a woman; why don't you write the woman's rights section?"
she was "delighted" and also asked if she could write "about academic freedom" as well.
Right about now, you might be asking:
Why would she be interested in, or qualified to do this?
Beate grew up in Japan. Her father, a Russian pianist, Leo Sirota and her mother, Augustine lived in Japan during the 1930s. Even during WW2 the Sirota's stayed in Japan while Beate went to the USA to study. She also worked as a translator...monitoring Tokyo Radio for the US government.
Beate was raised by a Japanese housekeeper. Her fluency in Japan and knowledge of Japanese culture was like any other Japanese child. She knew the restraints kept on Japanese women as well as children and that was her incentive.
The details of the group of Americans that helped to draft the new constitution were not made public for a long time. I first heard about it in the 1990s....I think...my memory fails me when it comes to history.
Supposedly, the details were kept confidential because it was thought that, if the Japanese knew that "foreigners" made the constitution there would be a "movement" to revise it.
I am not sure how much of this fact actually contributes to recent discussions about the Constitution of Japan, but it has become a well known topic now; whether or not the Constitution should be revised and if so how much of it should change.
As I was looking through my bookshelf for "The Only Woman in the Room" by Beate Sirota Gordon, I found another book about another American in Japan...
This one I haven't read yet, but as you can see by it's title, it should be very interesting:
"Native American in the Land of the Shogun - Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan - the true story of a half-Chinook, half-Scot adventurer who entered feudal Japan in 1848 and helped pave the way for its modernization" ... wow!
I'll let you know how it turns out... but my stack of "books to read" for book clubs and research (for my own book) is becoming astronomical... yikes!
In the meantime, I get to work during Golden Week... Argh, this week Happy Monday will be a Happy Tuesday for me. Hopefully I will be able to post something about the other upcoming national holidays as well : Green Day (I'm not kidding) and Children's Day.