Yamada, Waka (1879–1956)

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Yamada, Waka (1879–1956)

Japanese writer, translator, and social reformer. Born Asaba Waka, Dec 1, 1879, in Kimura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan; died Sept 6, 1956; dau. of Asaba Kunihisa (farmer); m. Araki Hichijiro, Aug 20, 1896 (div.); m. Yamada Kakichi (teacher of Western languages, sociology and economics), 1905.

Ardent advocate for underprivileged and abused women, who became one of the most respected women of prewar Japan; to aid family's declining fortunes, sailed for US (c. 1897), but was seized by pimps upon arrival on West Coast and sold to a brothel; known as "Arabian Oyae," remained in forced prostitution in Seattle until a man helped her escape; sought protection from Cameron House, a Methodist home for the rehabilitation of prostitutes in San Francisco (1902), where she received vocational and religious instruction and served as an interpreter; on marriage (1905), returned to Japan where she was introduced to female activists of Seitōsha (The Bluestockings) who published a literary feminist journal, Seitō; began a prolific career as a translator and writer, 1st by translating the essays of South African feminist Olive Schreiner; translated book-length works of Lester Ward, an American sociologist who wrote Women's Natural Instincts and Women's Education, and the works of Swedish feminist Ellen Key, including Love and Marriage and The Century of the Child; published a collection of her essays (1920), concerning labor unions, working conditions for women textile workers, female suffrage, and new trends in women's issues; began publishing a popular advice column in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun (1926), a mass-circulation daily; elected chair of Motherhood Protection League (1935); founded Hatagaya House for Mothers and Children and Hatagaya Nursery School (1939).

See also Yamazaki Tomoko, The Story of Yamada Waka: From Prostitute to Feminist Pioneer (Kodansha, 1985); and Women in World History.

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Yamada, Waka (1879–1956)

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