Meet Motoko Hani, Japan's First Female Journalist

Motoko Hani was from a samurai family and was born in 1873. She was the first journalist in Japan, and in addition to standing out as a professional, she was responsible for fighting for education and financial independence in the country.

Motoko Han lived to dedicate herself to doing everything in her power to improve the lives of Japanese women. The first Japanese journalist was one of the first women at Tokyo's women's institute of higher education.

Motoko Hani - meet the first female journalist in Japan

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Motoko made history

Motoko Hani was responsible for creating a magazine that is in monthly circulation until today, the “Fujin no Tomo"(which means" friend of the woman "in Portuguese). The magazine was created in 1903, but only 5 years after it had that name.

Motoko served as editor-in-chief of this magazine which is aimed at housewives. The magazine's audience was primarily middle-class women with residences in newly established urban centers.

The magazine aimed to help women improve their lives with insights into Christianity and providing practical help in daily life.

In the year 1921, she founded the free teaching female school called the Jiyu Gakuen School Myonicikan. The institution aimed at the independence and freedom of women.

The institution has four buildings: the main one with classrooms, the east in a U-shape, the west also with classrooms and the auditorium with capacity for up to 300 people.

Motoko Hani - meet the first female journalist in Japan

In 1934, the main campus was moved to Higashikurume, Tokyo. The original buildings began to be used by alumni for extra activities. In the 1990s, there was a concern to revitalize the structure of the building that was already aging.

The Japanese government determined that the school could be used for educational activities and in 1997 it was declared a National Important Cultural Heritage.

The restoration of the building was carried out from January 1999 to September 2001. Since then, the place has been open to the public and can be used for different events and even weddings.

Ease for women

Journalist, Motoko Hani also created a financial agenda to help women with money management. She published an accounting book for modern Japanese families. This book was made available once a year.

In the early 20th century, women were in charge of child rearing and family finances. And through the creation of Motoko, the Japanese method of saving money known as 'kakeibo' gained repercussions not only among women. This form allowed women to have more control over their financial lives to align earnings with their lifestyle.

Motoko's kakebo is still used today and has already become a bestseller with translations into several languages.

Career

Before becoming a journalist, Motoko Hani was a teacher. It was something challenging for her, since at that time only 5.9% of the teachers were women. The female presence was predominant in textile factories or as domestic servants.

She started her career as a journalist by participating in a newspaper column called “Fujin no sugao” (meaning 'portraits of famous women'). His most successful article was when he interviewed Viscount Tani Kanjo's wife, Lady Tani.

After the good reaction, she was promoted to newspaper reporter and became Japan's first female journalist in 1897 at the age of 24.

Motoko stood out as a reporter because she focused on neglected areas such as day care centers and orphanages.

Motoko Hani - meet the first female journalist in Japan

In 1920, she made the claim that women were equal to men in the domestic sphere. And she conquered her space by talking about female empowerment issues.

She was among the female leaders working with the Meiji government to improve the lives of Japanese women.

Motoko died in 1957, aged 84, and left a legacy that women play a fundamental role in society and that they can have the freedom to be whatever they want.

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