This essay reflects on the experience of a remarkable Japanese woman, Hasegawa Teru, whose life story can help us both historicize and contextualize the emergence of a human-rights discourse in modern Japan and connect it to the struggle of the social and political Left in Japanese society against state-sponsored militarism from the wartime era until the present day. One of the most compelling and courageous figures in the history of the modern Japanese antiwar movement, whose memory has been invoked quite frequently in recent years by Japanese activists opposed to remilitarization, Hasegawa Teru was also a devoted Esperantist who wrote passionately in various Chinese periodicals against what she saw as the vicious and ultimately self-destructive policies of her home government and its military leadership during the late 1930s and early 1940s. This essay introduces and briefly elaborates on a small selection of Hasegawa's wartime writings to reveal the complex ways in which she articulated her feminist, pacifist, and antifascist beliefs. Because her pacifist mission was so significantly shaped by both her commitment to the struggle for gender equality and her rejection of a political identity defined by the nation-state, this brief overview of Hasegawa's life and thought can make a meaningful contribution to debates concerning women, human rights, and transnationalism.

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