Author of Japan's Women's Rights Clause speaks
(Sept. 23, 2011) Beate Sirota Gordon, who wrote the Women's Rights Clause in Japan's Constitution, talked about her experiences at a special lecture sponsored by the School of Law's Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality.
Gordon was a member of the 25-member Constitutional Assembly created in Japan in 1946 by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander in post-World War II Occupied Japan. At the age of 22, Gordon attended a secret meeting between American and Japanese officials about the women's rights clause she wrote for Japan's new Constitution, which guaranteedwomen equal rights with men and remains in tact today. Japan's Constitution also guarantees Japan's peaceful roles in world affairs and democracy.
She was born in Vienna and arrived in Japan in 1929, when her father, world-renowned pianist Leo Sirota, became a professor at the Imperial Academy of Music in Tokyo. Before the war started in 1941, Gordon came to the United States to attend college, worked for U.S. Office of War Information, and did research on Japan for TIME Magazine. She returned to Tokyo in 1945 as the first civilian woman attached to the Occupation Army. She returned to the United States, where she married and has pursued her primary interest in performing arts. In 1970, she became director of the Performing Arts Program of the Asia Society in New York and became Director of Performances, Films, and Lectures in 1987.
Observing growing global military tensions, Gordon decided to spread word about Japan's Constitution - the women's rights and peace clauses in particular - as a lesson for the world today. Author of "The Only Woman in the Room," her story has been featured in broadcast and print media.
Gordon is a recipient of numerous awards, including the American Dance Guild Award (1978) and the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Japanese government (1998).
The Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality brought the lecture to Seattle with generous support from the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation.