My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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KYOTO, Japan—I was half an hour late in getting back to the hotel from the tea plantation on Tuesday afternoon and I found a group of representatives of the women of Kyoto waiting to discuss their problems with me. The same problems crop up over and over again—the economic and social position of women, the family unit system where the mother-in-law is supreme, a pattern which the young people might be glad to break but which the economic conditions make it difficult to interfere with; the situation of widows with children to bring up and support, in fact all the social services in the community; labor conditions for women, both industrially and on the farm. Here, I imagine because they were never bombed, nobody brought up the question of peace or of the use of the atomic bomb.

This community is less touched by war and therefore people are more conservative and changes are coming about more slowly in social and economic life.

In the evening the Rev. William B. Parsons and Mrs. Parsons invited us to have dinner with them and talk after dinner with a group of missionaries from this area. There were four Japanese ministers present. The bishop welcomed me. Then we had a discussion which confirmed many of the things which I had been hearing from the groups of Japanese with whom I have been discussing. One young man asked me whether a news analysis which he had seen quoted as coming from America on the last Japanese election, was really believed in the U.S. He said that the recent government victory was attributed to the fact that the majority was accepting gradual rearmament, whereas, as a matter of fact, the present government had been careful to say very little on the subject of rearmament. He asked whether I realized that among Japanese there is a deep resentment because they feel the U.S. is using economic pressure at the time of elections in order to put the people into office who will be favorable to U.S. policies. Therefore, they consider that the U.S. is trying to make Japan economically a slave. In one form or another this crops up very frequently in talking to the Japanese.

I suppose any country is particularly sensitive to efforts directed at any kind of domination when it has so recently regained its freedom. The people of Japan, as a whole, never really had much freedom as we know it, but they have been trained to a nationalist spirit and they blame the last war upon this spirit. It looks today as though the majority would prefer to be invaded and occupied in preference to going through bombings and war in which people would die and much destruction would take place. This spirit may change but we have not yet found the formula for changing it among the people, I am afraid.

Two weeks ago tonight I left NYC and I must say I feel as though I have travelled far and seen much and really lived in a different kind of a world in the last twelve days.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Kyoto (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 8, 1953

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.