- ジェンダー史学 (ISSN:18804357)
- vol.5, pp.21-34, 2009 (Released:2010-11-02)
The opening of Japan in the mid 19th century encouraged Japanese women's emigration overseas.Because most of them engaged in prostitution abroad, the existence of these women, usually known as Karayuki, was the focal point of anti-prostitution criticisms in Japan from the early Meiji era. Moral advocates and anti-prostitution activists regarded their presence as a possible disgrace to the nation. However, their discursive circumstances changed in the Taisho era with the inflow and circulation of the ideas of eugenics, which were repeatedly featured in Kakusei, the official bulletin of Kakusei-kai, one of the most influential anti-prostitution organisations in Japan. In this paper I explore the way in which criticism of Karayuki by the anti-prostitution movement was incorporated into a narrative of eugenics, and how its discursive entity resulted in what can best be termed the alleged crisis of "blood purity" of the Japanese race in the Taisho era. The ideas of eugenics provided theoretical background and offered a highly effective remedy for the anti-prostitution movement as an antidote against both licensed prostitution in the body politic of Japan and "unlicensed" prostitution abroad. By evoking hygienic images, the narratives of eugenics diagnosed prostitution and prostitutes as social pathogen. That is, as the main source of "venereal diseases" threatening "domestic purity." This perspective of racial contamination shaped a crucial aspect of anti-Karayuki criticism, which had never before been in focus: Karayuki's ignorance of interracial intercourse as a representation of an encroachment on the nation's racial purity. The scientific guise of eugenics manipulatively transformed the ethical discourse of sex and the moral discourse of prostitution into the obscure but evocative discourses of "blood," "race," and "national purity." Karayuki's sexual economy began to be imagined as the dismal locus of racial contamination, which then provoked severe assaults on Karayuki.