Whose Life Should Be Reformed?: The Transformation of the Life Reform Movement in Prewar Japan

  •  Eisuke Hisai    


This paper aims to show that the life reform movement taking place in Japanese cities before the Second World War was not separate from the postwar life reform movement taking place in rural areas; rather, it possessed aspects that were continued after the war. Previous studies have pointed out that life reform movement organizations established in cities in the Taisho period targeted the middle class. However, they have only made fragmentary references to the fact that such organizations instead came to emphasize the importance of farmers, who made up the majority of the population, starting in the late 1920s. This paper is a case study of the activities of the Life Reform League (renamed the Central Association of Life Reform in November 1933), which spearheaded prewar Japan’s life reform movement. The results of this study clarify that the leaders of the life reform movement in the late 1920s and beyond focused on farmers, who made up the majority of the population, as a new target demographic to stop the movement from stagnating. Moreover, they proposed a movement with a foundation consisting not of individuals, but of small, community-based groups. Although many of the organization’s new initiatives never left the planning stages, this change in the organization’s activity policy is nonetheless a clear indication of the process by which the initial principle of “life reform,” concerned with only part of society, transitioned to become a postwar principle concerned with the entire Japanese population.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1916-9655
  • ISSN(Online): 1916-9663
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: semiannual

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