Nagai’s metaphoric explanation of haijo emphasizes ‘weeding out of the undesirables’, while my paper will look at the use of this notion as a measure to prevent any potential conception of the undesirables. That is, the notion of death, or the action ...
Nagai’s metaphoric explanation of haijo emphasizes ‘weeding out of the undesirables’, while my paper will look at the use of this notion as a measure to prevent any potential conception of the undesirables. That is, the notion of death, or the action to kill, is premised on birth. My discussion of eugenic haijo takes one extra step back and looks at the way in which the body is managed before conception. I will mainly talk about this phase of elimination through surgical procedures of ？釋Ndanshu, or sterilization.
I would like to first talk about the debates surrounding the eugenic haijo by engaging with the writings by proponents and theoreticians of the eugenics campaigns, paying particular attention to Ikeda Shigenori. Ikeda Shigenori was born in 1892 in Akita, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Siamese language (Thai) at the Tokyo University of Foreign Languages and started his career as an editor for the magazine Daikan. Later he worked for the Hochi Newspaper during which time he was dispatched to Germany and served as a correspondent for five years. Upon his return to Japan in 1925, Ikeda built his social network with like-minded intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and government officials to launch a movement calling for eugenic reform in Japan, and founded a journal, Y㉠sei undo, Eugenics Movement, in 1926 (serialized from November 1926-January 1931). This journal was short-lived, and was discontinued in 1931. A year after the termination of his journal in 1932, Ikeda took up the position as chief editor for the Keijo nippo in colonial Korea. Ikeda’s role and influence in the publishing world in colonial Korea, and also the eugenic reform, is another topic of research that I hope to address in the future. In 1939, Ikeda returned to Hochi Newspaper as chief editor and died in 1966, at the age of 74. Prolific writer and journalist, Ikeda wrote about 42 books and hundreds of essays.
Broadly, Ikeda divides the eugenics campaigns into positive and negative practices.
Positive campaigns seek eugenic betterment through the increase in eugenic marriages, while negative campaigns aim to reduce the marriage rate of those who are deemed unfit.
Throughout his earlier writings, Ikeda criticized the negative campaigns as immature ‘當禮ㅚㅻ’assertions made by eugenicists, and stressed the positive, constructive eugenic life by way of promoting eugenic marriages. For Ikeda, positive eugenic precepts meant popularization of guidelines conducive for eugenic marriages, which meant fostering the ability to select a eugenically fit spouse. In his 1927 article in Y㉠sei undo, Ikeda identifies ten categories of those who should not get
married. In addition to those with genetically-transmitted mental illnesses and
physical disabilities, including blindness, deafness and epilepsy(？d？B), Ikeda also ruled-out alcoholics, chronic criminals, and the "lazy" individuals, such as prostitutes and the poor.
In another 1927 essay in Y㉠sei undo, Ikeda Shigenori articulates a relationship
between marriage and sex. Eugenicists have opposed marriages of those who are
deemed unfit, Ikeda reaffirms. But this does not restrict one’s sex life, Ikeda asserts
and goes on to explain how people often equate marriage and sex, and misunderstand
the objectives of the eugenics movement. To eugenicists, marriage is a precondition for reproduction. And that is why we disapprove of marriages of those who have inferior genes, but we do not mean to ban their sex life. That is, the proponents of eugenic marriage acknowledge that people who potentially have inferior genes are entitled to fulfilling human desires such as sex. We simply ask that they exercise conscience (좁懃) and refrain from reproduction, for his or her own sake, and for the sake of others and future generations to come. To this end, surgical procedures and contraceptives are readily available.