TsukuBlog

A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

On Day of the National Holiday Commemorating Japan`s Post-War Constitution- Remembering Beate Sirota Gordon (who at age 22 helped write it )

By Avi Landau

(I wrote this last year when I learned of Beate`s death and have decided to repost it on the occassion of today`s national holiday- Constitution Day)

 

Asakura-San is an old acquaintance of mine. A retired lawyer born and bred in Tokyo but  now living in Tsukuba, she once had the opportunity, many years ago, of attending a lecture by Beate (pronounced BEH AH TEH) Sirota Gordon, the American woman who at the age of 22 helped draft the Japanese constitution- specifically the section which guaranteeing Japanese women`s legal rights regarding inheritance, property, marriage and divorce. After the event, Asakura-San was able to join  a smaller group discussion which was obviously an inspiration. Almost every time I meet her she reminisces, with great enthusiasm about Beate (as she calls her), and how important it is to preserve Japan`s present constitution and make sure that it is properly implemented.

I actually did a series of interviews with Asakura-San focusing on her encounter with Gordon. I had wanted to write an article to appear on Japan`s Constitution Day (KENPO NO HI, 憲法の日) which is holiday that occurs on May 3rd of every year (since it was on that day in 1947 that Japan`s constitution was promulgated).

That was two years ago. What happened was that after I finished up our talks Japan was hit by a big earthquake and Tsunami and there was an accident at a nuclear power plant not very far (relatively speaking) from my house- which was shaken into complete disarray.

Since I had to move and put most of my books and papers in storage. I forgot about the article.

Then last night, I checked the newspaper online. I noticed with surprise and sadness that Gordon had passed away.  It shattered the New Year`s peace and calm which I had been enjoying. I remembered my long forgotten project- went through some boxes full of books and documents ( we have just moved again), but could not find my old notes.

The New York Times, however, ran a detailed obituary (how do they do that so quickly- do they prepare them beforehand for all prominent older people?) .

Here is the NYT article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/asia/beate-gordon-feminist-heroine-in-japan-dies-at-89.html?hpw&_r=0

 

The Japanese documentary film The Gift from Beate has been screened in Tsukuba and the posters of the event still hang in certain places

 



One Comment

  • Dan Waldhoff says:

    Sad passing but it seems so many of our elder friends move on at the end of one year or the beginning of another … and, yes, her obituary has been waiting for her death. I think that is standard practice regarding people who figured prominently …

    Happy New Year and resolve to keep your notes digital with a backup to the cloud – this is 2013 – can’t afford to misplace what might be treasures!