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This story is part of a package on women in Japan. The introduction is here.

1869: Granting of freedom of domestic passage for women

1872: Prohibition of bobbed hair; Prohibition of all slavery with the exception of legal prostitution

1873: Legalization of divorce suits initiated by wives

1885: Ginko Ogino becomes first female doctor of medicine

1900: Salvation Army campaign for liberation of Yoshiwara prostitutes

1913: Ban of sales of February and April issues of Seito, a journal focusing on question of nontraditional identity of the “new woman” of the Meiji Era (1868-1912); First admission of female student to Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo)

1918: Rice riots by women in Toyama Prefecture over pricing

1925: Granting of universal male suffrage

1931: Granting of first menstruation leave in Japan at Senju Food Research Institute

1938: Qualification of first three women lawyers in Japan

1939: Ban on permanent wave hairstyles

1940: Enactment of National Eugenics Law (Kokumin yuseiho), restricting birth control access and promoting genetic screening

1945: Granting of women’s suffrage

1946: Ban on legal prostitution; First general election after World War II; 39 female candidates elected

1948: Enactment of Eugenics Protection Law (Yusei hogoho), including clause for wide abortion access

1961: National meeting of mothers opposed to consumer price rises

1963: Declaration of opposition to atomic submarines from Women’s Association for the Protection of Human Rights (Jinken wo Mamoru Fujin Kyogikai)

1970: First women’s-liberation mass demonstration

1972: Granting of maternity leave to female public servants

1974: Successful court challenge by women workers at Nagoya Broadcasting to policy of compulsory retirement at age 30; Establishment of Chupiren (Pink Helmet Brigade) radical feminist group

1977: Ministry of Labor announces plan to abolish discriminatory retirement systems for women; Ruling by Supreme Court that firing of women on basis of marital status is not illegal

1982: Survey shows that 80 percent of listed companies have no plan to employ women college graduates

1985: Passage of Equal Employment Opportunity Law; Ratification of U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

1986: Takako Doi appointed chairperson of Japan Socialist Party, becoming Japan’s first female leader of a major political party

1991: Tokyo District Court orders a man who sexually harassed a woman to pay 3 million yen damages

1999: Implementation of the Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society

2001: Law for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims passed

2005: Implementation of the Next Generation Nurturing Support Measures Promotion Law, requiring local autonomies and companies to prepare action programs to halt the birthrate slide

2006: Government introduces bill to revise Equal Employment Opportunity Law to facilitate maternity leave, ban indirect discrimination and crack down on sexual harassment

Events prior to 1999 excerpted from “Broken Silence: Voices of Japanese Feminism,” Sandra Buckley ed., with permission from University of California Press.

For other stories in our package on women in Japan, please click the following links:

Girls’ job stereotypes persist in face of continuing ‘concrete ceiling’

Women’s voices

Pointers to progress and inertia

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