Kusunose Kita (楠瀬喜多)

Kita KUSUNOSE (1836 to 1920) was a Japanese women's movement activist. She was born in Kochi Prefecture (Tosa Domain at that time). Her common name was Minken Basan (literally, old leady for the rights).

Career

She was born in Tosa Domain in 1836. In 1857, she was married to Minoru KUSUNOSE who was an instructor of Kendo (Japanese art of fencing) of Tosa Domain, but became a widow in 1874. Since they did not have any children nor adopted children, Kusunose took over as a householder. However, in 1878, she was not approved to vote at the Kochi Prefectural Municipal Election because she was a woman, even though she paid tax as a householder.
At that time, Fukenkai kisoku (the rules of prefectural assembly) stipulated that 'men over 20 years old whose domicile is in that county and prefecture and who pay more than 5 yen tax are eligible to vote (Article 14 of the same law).'
However, the national criteria for Kuchosonkai (municipal assembly), the lower organization of Fukenkai (prefectural assembly), was not stipulated in the law of the local system, Gunkuchoson henseiho. Kusunose protested against the fact that she was not allowed to vote just because she was a woman, and stopped paying her taxes. At the same time, she submitted a protest documentto Kochi Prefecture. However, Kochi Prefecture did not accept Kusunose's request, and thus she even sent a written opinion to the Ministry of Interior (Japan). She, after all, could not vote in the election, however, her action was jointed to the Freedom and People's Rights Movement, and on September 20, 1880, Kuchsonkai ho (the law of municipal assembly) was issued, which gave each Kuchsonkai (municipal assembly) the right to make rules of its own election. Accordingly, only women who were householders became eligible to vote for the first time in Japan. After that, it was also approved in the next village, Kodakasa Village (however, in 1884, the government changed Kuchsonkai ho [the law of municipal assembly] and took the rulemaking power from them). She continued the women's liberation movement, and her name was known as 'Minken Basan'. She died in 1920 when Taisho Democracy was booming. She died at the age of 84.