- vol.3, pp.196-220, 1996
Until recently, the studies in history of education have mainly focused on the formal education in schools. It resulted that the educational opportunities and learning styles of majority of women in countryside have almost been ignored in the academic research fields. This paper focuses on the process, backgrounds and intentions of organizing the local female youth into some supervised groups in the villages, from 1910s to 1920s in Japan. The popular name given to such groups was "SHOJOKAI", literally 'the club of virgin, or unmarried young women'. There are roughly three patterns in the organizing process of "SHOJOKAI": (a) Female of elementary school graduates or members of dress-making groups, organizing themselves by the leadership of schoolmasters or so; (b) younger members of local women's groups becoming independent from the body and setting up new groups or divisions; and (c) newly organized on the purpose of compensatory education, campaign for improving lifestyles, and women's moral education. The number of such groups nationally increased just after the Russo-Japanese War (especially in 1908), and also around the period of setting up the Central Office of "SHOJOKAI" in 1918. As the Ministry of Education was not interested in the national organization of female youth at that time, the Ministry of Domestic Affairs went ahead. However, it should be kept in mind that what we call Shojokai Policy was not clarified in the official paper until 1926. Instead, they gave chance and some responsibility to the Guest Officer, Fujio Amano to utilize his ability and energy to report on the local Shojokai situations and to set up the leading organization. Amano himself was a teacher and leader of youth groups in his home village, and at the age of 25, had been invited to work for the Ministry. He insisted that "SHOJOKAI" should be organized in each villages, in order to prevent the young women from suffering from the influence of the city culture and lead them to be 'Good Working Wives and Healty Sound Mothers of the Country'. He wrote three books and many articles on magazines to announce his ideas and the practical plans to start up "SHOJOKAI"'s activities. In his educational intention and practice, the existence of other sex youth groups itself was found to be very effective. And the slogan 'Work toughly, gently and honestly' was clear in expressing what was expected to Japanese young women after the World War I. He also put much emphasis on how the young lived and felt in their everyday s lives. "SHOJOKAI"s were later reorganized into "JOSHISEINENDAN" (Local Youth Groups for Females), which led Japanese young women to work for their community and also for the pursuit of Japanese national policy (especially the one for invasion of China).