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 at the end of 2012 when I first learned of Beate`s death and have decided to repost it on the occasion 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 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: