My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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KYUSHU, Japan —Monday afternoon we travelled a long time by train. Just before reaching our destination Kokura, we stopped at a place called Moji where a young lady met me with a bunch of flowers and I was reminded that I had an invitation to meet here with a joint council of the citizens of Moji and the personnel of our Army station. They explained to me that they discussed all the problems which arose in the city because of the occupation and that together they are eliminating misunderstandings and disagreements. I thought this sounded like a pattern which might be useful if tried in many other areas and I was sorry I was not able to attend one of their meetings.

I held a press conference on arrival in the stationmaster's office and then drove to the Industry Club in Tabata which is a large house. It once belonged to a rich man who had, as is usual, his Japanese house next door but, since the war, he is now unable to keep it up and so it has become a place for entertaining visitors. We were the guests of the Governor of the Prefecture in which Tabata lies.

Everywhere great kindness has been shown us and the people have been willing to tell me their points of view even though I am sure they toned them down now and then, for the Japanese could not bear being really honest when it requires rudeness.

One things amuses me in many places and that is how small everything is, because not only Japanese women but, on the whole, Japanese men are smaller than Americans. They are just as strong and I look at some of the women working in the fields and carrying their babies about, or carrying loads on poles across their shoulders, and realize that height and strength have nothing to do with each other. In addition to their height, however, I think Japanese women spend more time on their knees than we do, so their dressing tables or any of their furniture can be much nearer the ground than we find convenient.

I keep thinking how queer they must think us, since they all stay slight and slim, I think I must look grotesque to them but they are very polite and very kind, always greeting me smiling.

Wednesday morning we went to a mine, passing through one of the big steel work areas. This was a small mine and we did not go down into the shafts but I got a very good idea of conditions and saw the women at work sorting the rocks from coal. It is good work for women, done mostly by widows. They are given a small pension but even then it must be hard to eke out a living for all told the most they can have is 10,500 yen a month, which in dollars is about $29.00 for a family to live on. That is also without the tax taken out and the tax, when everything is included, takes a good slice out of everybody's income.

One farmer whom I asked, pays almost a third of his gross income in taxes.

From the mining area we went to talk to a group of women whom the Company had brought together. The nurse was the most outspoken in the group and pointed out some of the difficulties in the lives of the people. By and large the problems do not vary very much from those of the mining areas in the U.S. during the early thirties but, while the miner s' union is strong, no union here is as strong as in the U.S .


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Kyushu, Japan [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 18, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.