Noe Itō : biography
(January 21, 1895 – September 16, 1923) was a Japanese anarchist, social critic, author and feminist.
Early life and education
Itō was born on the island of Kyushu near Fukuoka, Japan on January 21, 1895. At the age of 14, she went to work for the post office for one year. The following year she moved to Tokyo to enter the Ueno Girls' School.
In the summer of her fifth year at Ueno Girls' High School, under her uncle's management, she was married to a man named Fukutaro. Itō agreed to the marriage because Fukutaro had just returned from America, where she hoped to go. She confided in her sister that when they reached America she would run off and leave him. That never happened, and they remained in Japan. Itō's displeasure with the arrangement deepened when her husband could not support her educational interests, which was a part of the wedding arrangement.
While attending Ueno, Itō formed a friendship with her English teacher, Jun Tsuji. He had been her confidante during her marriage. Tsuji allowed Itō to stay with him when she was to be sent back home with her husband, which would have disrupted her education. With Tsuji's support she continued her education and eventually ended her marriage with Fukutaro.
On September 16, 1923, in the chaos immediately following the Great Kantō earthquake, according to writer and activist Harumi Setouchi, Itō, Ōsugi, and his 6 year old nephew were arrested, beaten to death and thrown into an abandoned well by a squad of military police led by Lieutenant Masahiko Amakasu. According to literary scholar Patricia Morley, Itō and Ōsugi were strangled in their cells. Noe Itō was 28 years old.
The killing of such high profile anarchists, along with a young child, became known as the Amakasu Incident, and sparked surprise and anger throughout Japan. Director Kijū Yoshida made Eros Plus Massacre (エロス＋虐殺) in 1969, about Sakae Ōsugi, in which Itō features prominently.
Itō graduated from Ueno Girls' High School in March 1912, and joined the Bluestocking Society (Seitō-sha; 青鞜社), producer of the feminist arts and culture magazine Seitō (青鞜)in 1915; she contributed until 1916. In her last year as editor-in-chief she practiced an inclusive attitude towards content; she "opened the pages to extended discussions of abortion, prostitution, and motherhood".Sharon L. Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press (1983), 182-183. Ito wrote social criticism and novels, and translated writings of Emma Goldman (Emma Goldman, The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation, New York, Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1906, etc.).
After graduation, Itō's relationship with Tsuji became romantic and together they had two sons, Makoto (January 20, 1914) and Ryūji (August 10, 1915). They were officially married in 1915. Their relationship lasted about four years before she was captivated by Sakae Ōsugi. Starting in 1916, she lived and worked with Ōsugi, where she continued to rise in the feminist group and showed growing leadership potential.
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