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A woman who was among the group of Americans who drafted Japan’s Constitution after World War II has said that she wanted to do everything possible to guarantee the rights of women in the supreme law.

Giving a speech Wednesday at the University of Tokyo in front of some 200 people, Beate Sirota Gordon, 77, said she had been aware of the suppression Japanese women experienced in the prewar period.

Gordon, a 22-year-old working for the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers when the Constitution was drafted, is widely known for having been a major driving force behind the rights bestowed to women in Article 24. Speaking in Japanese, Gordon said she had many arguments with SCAP about articles she proposed to stipulate specific rights for Japanese women.

She shed tears when SCAP deleted some of the articles she had drafted on specific rights, she said.

In response to questions from a number of participants about what she believes Japanese women should do now, she urged Japanese youth, young women in particular, to go to the polls and exercise their right to vote, because women didn’t have suffrage before the end of the war.

Gordon also said women should take the lead in promoting peace in the world and encourage other countries to learn from Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

After her lecture, students who organized the gathering urged the participants to reconsider what the Constitution brought about in postwar Japan, in light of the rising number of politicians and academics who are voicing the need to review the supreme law.

The Constitution became effective in May 1947 after the Occupation headquarters, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and the Japanese government agreed on a draft largely modeled after the U.S. Constitution and British practices.

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