During the past seven years, it is clearly the women of Japan who have benefited most. I say this in all seriousness, without any sense of irony.

(Ōya Sōichi 1952:199)

Marriage is the only actual bondage known to our law. There remain no legal slaves, except the mistress of every house…

(John Stuart Mill 1989:80)

When a well-known male critic such as Ōya Sōichi pronounces that Japan’s women were the main beneficiaries of the American occupation, one wonders precisely what he has in mind. At a superficial level, he was no doubt referring to Article 24 of the postwar constitution and to the many legal rights accorded Japanese women through SCAP’s reforms. Article 24, in particular, represents a dramatic departure from women’s legal status in prewar Japan:

Marriage shall be based on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual co-operation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.