While the Women’s Liberation Movement was flourishing in the 1970s, a meeting was held in Nagano. It was called “Lib Camp.” The number of women who attended the camp was about 300. Some came from Hokkaido in the Northern part of Japan, others came from Kyushu in the southern part. Some even brought their children. Those who wanted to attend the camp had to follow interesting directions. “Join by yourself. Use slow trains. Walk to the camp from the nearest station.” This was in a time when women rarely traveled by themselves.
The movie “30 Years of Sisterhood” was about a reunion that gathered 12 women who were in Women’s Lib 30 years ago. The camp was held at a hot spring. Chieko Yamagami and Noriko Seyama shot the movie, which recorded talks by Mitsu Tanaka, Yoko Akiyama, Soko Miki, Yoko Saeki and other women who were members of the movement. In the movie they recount how they encountered Women’s Lib and talk about themselves. I am fascinated by the honesty and frankness with which they speak about "that time and those days" when they tried to liberate themselves. Even though 30 years has passed, I’m definitely convinced that “Lib” is not only the name of the social movement, but a way of life.
In 2007, I met Yamagami. The Nagoya City Gender Equality Promotion Center planned an event and invited her and Miki as lecturers. I was a founding member of the NPO, Sankaku Planet, which at that time managed the Center. As actual planners of the event, we showed this movie “30 years of Sisterhood”. Before meeting them, “Lib” was a mere social phenomenon to me, although it looked overwhelming. This image changed the moment I met them. I was so nervous when the event took place, which makes me laugh whenever I recall that day. It was such a memorable day. If you think you have nothing to do with “Lib” and “Lib” is history, it is you who need to watch the movie. I strongly recommend it. You may happen to discover the spirit of “Lib” sleeping in yourself.
Yamagami is currently shooting another movie about the Equal Employment Opportunity Law for Men and Women. Women activists fought for the law and they are still fighting for a better work environment. WAN is supporting its fund-raising campaign. You can contribute to the project through our website.
Original Article by Natsuko Nakamura
Translated by Atsuko Ishikawa