Women’s Health Reforms in Japan at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
By focusing on women’s health reforms, this chapter discusses the ways that women’s bodies were colonized by the encroachment of modern bio-power. The Japanese state sought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to bolster its national strength through the health of the women who would bear the next generation of Japanese men and women. Women’s bodies became an object of scientific study and reform. Medical researchers scrutinized Japanese women’s bodies through the taxonomies of sex and race. They attempted to recreate women’s bodies by introducing physical education and reformed clothes. The adoption of health science in women’s education reshaped their understanding of their own bodies—colonizing them from the inside out—but women, at times, resisted the imposition of new health regimens and reformed fashion.