2001 年 8 巻 1 号 p. 24-35
The Japanese government inaugurated the Home Life Improvement Extension Service (HLIES) in 1949 during the postwar reform era, as recommended by General Head Quarters. The mission of the HLIES was to democratize rural society and to raise the status of rural women by increasing farmers’ awareness of their difficult lifestyles and helping them to independently rationalize their daily lives. The HLIES continued throughout the legislating of the Agricultural Basic Law in 1961 and the era of high economic growth, adapting itself not only to the changed circumstances, but also to the subsidy-dependent Japanese administration system.
This paper focuses on Yamaguchi, a prefecture well known for its great efforts in support of the HLIES and farm women. We intend to clarify firstly the development of the HLIES on a prefectural level compared with the national level, and secondly how rural women involved themselves with rural society through home life improvement practice groups and the like in the era of postwar reform. For these purposes, the author analyzed texts and monthly papers for HLIES advisors, training course memorandums and the minutes of meetings published by Yamaguchi prefecture. In addition, she interviewed leaders of home life improvement practice groups and HLIES advisors from the post-war era to record their personal experiences.
The paper concludes firstly that Yamaguchi Prefecture designated rural women as ‘HLIES assistants’ and had close personal contact with the Ministry, facilitating the smooth diffusion of the Ministry’s HLIES concept. However, the Ministry’s policies were changed in accordance with Yamaguchi’s small-scale farming structure. Secondly, HLIES advisors found their tasks to be involved with all areas of farmers’ lives and they therefore had to solve other urgent problems such as parasites and malnutrition. Thirdly, in the postwar reform era of livelihood hardship, rural women had little chance to publicly express their own opinions and encountered friction with already-existing groups. Their participation in home life improvement practice groups and new skill acquisition also influenced people outside these groups to be aware of the irrationality of social relationships and farm management.