Margaret Sanger, "International News Service Interview," 5 Sept 1922.
Source: " Japs Talk Nothing But War, Says Mrs. Margaret Sanger, After Long Tour In Behalf of Birth Control, Santa Cruz Evening News, Sept. 7 1922, p. 6."
For a similar statement, see "Statement on Japanese Trip," Aug. 9, 1952.
"They talk war and nothing but war in Japan."
This was the lasting impression left on the mind of Mrs. Margaret Sanger, who has returned to Europe en route for America after an extensive tour in the East under the aegis of the International Birth Control association.
Mrs. Sanger traversed the East propagating an unknown and very delicate subject and was accompanied only by her twelve-year-old son. She returns to Western civilization proud and happy with her accomplishments.
None of the old pioneers had been beset with the difficulties that have hampered the progress of Mrs. Sanger. In the first place the Japanese Consul at San Francisco, acting under instructions from Tokyo, declined to grant Mrs. Sanger her vise to enter Japanese territory. Nevertheless, this did not prevent Mrs. Sanger from boarding the ship sailing from San Francisco bound for Shanghai, which was going to make Tokyo en route.
Happily aboard that ship was the Japanese delegation from America returning to Japan from the Washington conference. To Baron Kato, chief of the delegation, she made her complaint, and the latter, after consulting with M. Hani Hari, decided to listen to a speech from the plucky little American lady on the extremely delicate subject which she intended to propagate among the people of the East.
So convinced were they after the address that they immediately wirelessed their government and suggested that it should let Mrs. Sanger into its country without restriction. The reply was that it would allow her in providing she did not give any public address. She took a chance and gave the undertaking.
Then Mrs. Sanger's friends became annoyed with her, for on her arrival at Tokyo all the reporters from the whole of Japan boarded the vessel not with the intention of interviewing the returning Japanese delegation on their impressions of Washington, but to interview her on the question of birth control.
On arrival she was again warned by the authorities that she would be debarred from addressing a public meeting. Yet immediately she was asked by scores of independent societies to address their members on the subject. Naturally she complied. She was also obliged to bar the topic of birth control, but she circumvented that by renaming her subject "Population and War."
"I thought when I was able to stand up before a Japanese audience that my greatest difficulty was over, but I discovered it has just begun," said Mrs. Sanger.
"Every one of my speeches had to be interpreted item by item, and in Japanese it takes exactly four times as long as in English. Therefore a speech in English lasting exactly one hour took four hours to transpose into Japanese, and I had to stand throughout the whole translation, as it would have been discourteous had I sat down. So at the end of every lecture I was in a state of complete exhaustion."
"I found them most interested in the subject. At first they were skeptical. I had to grope my way to find what angle of the situation most appealed to them. It was different from the American."
"You know in America the American husband is just a big baby where the health of his wife is concerned, and therefore it was easy to get the sympathy of every American when it was pointed out to them that the health of their wives was impaired if they bore over three babies."
"That angle was lost on the Japs. The health of their wives was nothing to them. They were listless when I played on that point. They still have the old Eastern idea that the women are merely created for their pleasure and the reproduction of their species."
"But on the question of economics they were all agog. It is just as expensive to rear and educate a large family in Japan as it is in New York, and the matter of cost aroused the Oriental conscience to a great degree."
"Then they became most interested in the subject. They questioned me on all angles of the problem. The most delicate points they wanted discussed to the most academic degree. With me they were very frank, but never objectionable, and afterward when I convinced them that our methods neither meant the taking of life nor demanded husbandly restraint they were with me to a man."
"The result was that before I left Japan we had formed an association, with branches in every big city, and clinics were in the process before I left. In addition, I addressed a meeting of the Peers club. All who attended were from the aristocracy, and they displayed the greatest interest in the subject. Count Kara Tara presided, and at glowing terms. That was the most enjoyable lecture I delivered, because they all understood English."
"The only opposition I encountered was from the high military castes, for they still look upon the common population as so much cannon fodder, and the more Japanese bred the more lives they have to play with in the securing of military advantages."
"Everybody talks war in Japan, and everybody regards it as inevitable. The poor people hope to avoid it, but the rich and the manufacturing classes look forward to it."
"My own impression is that war cannot be avoided; the Japanese population is too crowded, and they must have an outlet. Adequate outlet at the moment is not available, and hundreds are starving through overcrowding."
"The military caste is not overlooking that opportunity to preach war in order that the Japanese Empire may be extended to accommodate their excess population. So plausible a story do they make of it that the hitherto pacifists are convinced that war is inevitable, and they are prepared for the worst."
"The military caste is cynical as to the outcome. Even if they do not conquer fresh territory, at all events they will have disposed of a good deal of their surplus population."
"Whether it can be avoided is doubtful. In the days gone by we sent out our Christian missionaries to preach the Gospel of good will, but it would have been a much more efficacious step toward peace had we a couple of generations ago sent birth control missioners, who would have convinced these Easterners that an overcrowded population means war and then to have taught them our remedy against over-population."
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project