Margaret Sanger, "Japanese Clinic Opening," 30 Aug 1937.
Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 19:126."
Sanger gave the keynote address at the tea reception and dedication of Baroness Shidzue Ishimoto’s Birth Control Clinic of Tokyo in Oimachi, a working class district of Tokyo. For another version of the speech see Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S71:959.
Baroness Ishimoto, and friends:
I am very happy indeed to be in Japan again and to meet so many old friends. Some of them have been to America and have visited us at our large Demonstration Clinic in New York, and other I met in 1922 in Japan on my first visit. So I feel You all never seem to be any older.
I, however, seem to be unfortunate in my visits to Japan. The first time I came with enthusiasm. I felt I had a message for the mothers of your country. I was not so hospitably received by your government. Nevertheless, the people, the mothers and the plain people, welcome me and gave me inspiration to carry this message on not only in Japan but throughout the Orient.
On my second visit Japan was under martial law, and no meetings were allowed. This time on my way to China and Manila I fell and broke my arm, and in view of the difficulty between China and Japan, I have decided to postpone my visit to China to another year.
Every country has its pioneers. England had its Mary Wollencraft, France its Madame Curie, America its Susan B. Anthony. Many others, Olive Shriner, Ellen Key of the Scandinavian countries; every country has men who pioneer in their line and women in others, and Japan should be proud, and I believe her children’s children will pay homage to one of the greatest women today, to Baroness Ishimoto, for Baroness Ishimoto is not only a pioneer in Japan, but also a Marco Polo of Japan, because thru her lectures and speaking to thousands and thousands of people from East to West and North to South, carries the message of Japan. I consider Baroness Ishimoto as really a bridge between Japan and the United States, brining the message of what you are doing here, and what we are doing there. We need many friends, both of our countries need friends. We need friends, and Japan needs friends in America because the world is going thru a chaotic, difficult time of uncertainty. Japan in particular is going thru a difficult time. She is one of the most overpopulated countries in the world, and it is my sincere belief that Japan like other countries will never solve her own problems, the problems of her internal relations and international relations, until she can solve her population problem. And population does not involve only the question of food, of rice and wheat and other things we eat; it concerns itself with the quality and the kind of people that are being brought into the world to carry on the destiny of your nation. You are not going to bring up the highest intelligence if you will multiply too rapidly because a rapid multiplication has always demonstrated that as we multiply to quickly we level down, but as we control our numbers and our rate of growth, we evolve to a higher destiny.
I have great sympathy with the present situation in Japan because I know it differs from Italy. Italy is one of the greatest sinners before the Court of Justice. She has boosted her families by placing medals on the breasts of the fathers (not the mothers, note!); and in boasting the size of her families she has brought upon the people greater problems to be solved by her future generations than can be met by her present generations. She is heaping up huge debts for unborn generations to meet.
Japan, on the other hand, has been increasing
It has been the momentum of a people that has carried on for many generations. I believe that your birth rate is now going down, and you will have eventually a quality population, and you will begin like low birth rate countries to strive for higher standards of living, and for peace with all the nations of the world. And someday you will look at this great program of peace and happiness and welfare, and see that we owe the beginnings to this group and to Baroness Ishimoto.
And you--my friends, have a spiritual responsibility, here. You can’t believe in this and not support it. You cannot stand idly by and let Baroness Ishimoto and a small group do all the work. That can’t be done. You have a spiritual responsibility to lead the way, and use your intelligence and your ideals, and to try to bring them into realization. I think the way the birth control movement is being conducted in Japan is a wise and constructive way. Baroness Ishimoto has had a hard hill to climb. She needs your help and she needs our help because birth control is not a national problem only, but an international one, and we who belong to this civilization must all help each other. Her fight is our fight and she will need assistance from us all to send midwives into the homes and help those mothers who cannot come out; and to take to them the message of peace and hope, and give them the possibility of spacing their children and having only the number of children that they can decently support and take care of. This will be the great patriot of the future, who will be the great patriot of the future, who will be of benefit not only to her own nation but to the civilization of the world.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project