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Google Doodle celebrates the first Japanese advocate and pioneer for women’s suffrage Kita Kusunose’s 183rd birthday

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Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Kita Kusunose’s 183rd Birthday, one of the first Japanese advocates for women’s political rights. Kita Kusunose was a self-described “common woman” who’s presently recognized as minken baasan, “the people’s rights granny.”

“It is strange that despite paying taxes, I do not have the right to vote because I am a woman,” wrote Kita Kusunose in her well known 1878 letter to Japanese officials. “If I don’t have the right to vote then I won’t pay my taxes.” Her actions understood women’s suffrage (briefly) in parts of the place where she grew up in Kochi city.

Kusunose Kita (楠瀬喜多) was born in Hirooka (part of present-day Kōchi city) as the girl of Kesamaru Gihei, a rice merchant, in 1836. At 21 years old, she wedded Kusunose Minoru (楠瀬実), a samurai living in the castle town of Kōchi (the present Tōjin-chō area) and a kendō teacher, however, was widowed in 1874. Not having any kids, she was the sole beneficiary of her husband’s property and became the head of the family.

Denied the right to vote in local elections since Kita Kusunose was a woman, she would not make good on her property tax with the conviction that duty and rights should exist together and sent a letter to the prefectural governor clarifying her decision. As the first public appeal composed by a Japanese woman, Kita’s letter created a serious ruckus. At the point when her contention was rejected by local authorities, Kita Kusunose took her case to Japan’s national ministry, after which it was reprinted in newspapers.

During the Meiji Era (1868 to 1912), Japanese society was experiencing a period of incredible change under Emperor Mutsuhito. Kita’s letter started a national discussion about women’s rights that prompted changes in voting laws for parts of her home prefecture, enabling a few women to vote for the first time in 1880. Despite the fact that the rights were denied four years after the fact, Kita Kusunose is recognized as a pioneer for women’s suffrage, which was at long last expanded across the country in Japan in 1946.

Kita Kusunose was likewise an advocate for education and is honored at the Kochi Liberty and Peoples’ Rights Museum, which opened in her hometown in 1990.

On October 18, 2019, Google celebrated her 183rd birthday with a Google Doodle.

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