Medium Post #2

Jiani Li
2 min readJan 17, 2021

Why is Tsurumi’s argument about the importance of Japanese women’s labor power to nation-building an important intervention to week 1’s theorizations of nationalism? On the flip side, what experiences might focus too much on this point occlude?

The companies that owned factories tried to give jokoo some “moral education” in order to decrease their daily resistance. The companies tried to persuade these women that they worked for the nation, but women did not identify them with Japanese nationhood. They cared about their work and were proud of their contribution. This had nothing to do with the nationalism. They were glad because their value was recognized by the companies. Additionally, they also cared about their families. Their connections to families were strong and they were pleased to work so they can help their families.

The women in the textile factories did not usually think that their families victimized them because their families loved them and did not force them to go to the factories. Most of the time, they worked in factories because they wanted to do so. They were deceived by recruiters and foremen were also seen as victimizers. The companies behind recruiters controlled them. However, some workers thanked the companies because they had jobs and could earn money to support their families. There is a conflict transition. The real conflict was between harsh regulations of the company and workers, but the company made it like the conflict was between their tool people and workers.

I think that hating foremen, loving companies and indifferent to nationalism may share a same reason — lack of education. Workers could not analyze who was behind all these bad things or think about things boarder than daily lives (this may because they were too exhausted and could only focus on every single day). Perhaps because they only cared about their daily lives, they did not see themselves as victims. Under these conditions, at that age, they already did their best.

The experience of Meiji state female factory workers reminds me the miserable experience of Chinese female workers who worked at Japanese spinning mills after Shanghai Incident in 1932, though this may seem irrelevant to the topic we’ve been discussed this week. At that time, Japanese merchants build a lot of spinning mills in Shanghai. Their female workers experienced same things as female workers in Meiji state, maybe worse. For me, this looks like that Japanese merchants figured out a profitable business model, so they apply it to a country they invaded. Same miserable things happened over and over again in the history or the history has the tendency to repeat itself.

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