Princess Aiko is the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako of Japan. However, according to current Imperial Household Law she may not succeed her father on the Chrysanthemum Throne because she is a woman. While Japan grapples with the future of imperial succession, a new English translation of an important text explores a time in Japanese history unfamiliar to many Westerners: Japan had six female emperors, two of whom reigned twice, who ruled before the 9th century and for a time in 16th and 17th centuries.
Masako Hamada, EdD, director of the Asian Studies program in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, provides a history of those women in the translated book, The Eight Female Emperors of Japan: A Brief Introduction to Their Lives and Legacies (Fuzambo International, 2018). Over the course of four years, Dr. Hamada translated the text originally written by Kiyoko Takagi, into English, expanding access to this important piece of Japanese history.
“If a woman becomes emperor in Japan in the future, the histories of these eight female emperors will be a critical guide to understanding Japan’s imperial legacy,” Dr. Hamada said.
Dr. Hamada says the resurfacing conversation about female emperors raises a more general question about gender equality in Japan. As part of this timely discussion, the Asian Studies program—in collaboration with the Gender and Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies programs—hosts “Women’s Leadership in Japan: Past and Present” on Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 3 to 4 p.m. in room 31, Garey Hall featuring:
“From Sun Goddess to Female Emperor to Businesswoman: Women’s Leadership in Japan through the Ages”
Kikuko Sakamoto, president, Fuzambo International Publishing; councilor, Sakamoto Houkoukai; president and a member of the Board of Trustees, Ochanomizu University; member of the Board of Trustees, Junshin Hiro Gakuen
“Umeko Tsuda’s Leading Role in Women’s Education in Japan in the Meiji Period (1868 -1912)”
Masako Iino, president, Japan-U.S. Educational Exchange Promotion Foundation, Fulbright Japan; former president and professor emerita, Tsuda University; chair of the Academic Council, Japanese Overseas Migration Museum.
“Japanese Women Today: Marriage, Family and Work”
Kazumi Teune, senior advisor and former executive director, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia.
Following the lecture is a reception and a book signing with Dr. Hamada. The event is free and open to the public.
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.