Kimura Komako was born on July 29, 1887, in Japan. She was raised learning the arts and excelled at Nihon buyō and Kabuki from a very young age. At the tender age of fourteen, her parents arranged her marriage with a man she had never met before, due to traditional Japanese culture. In a bold and rash decision, Kimura ran from home and took up dancing in another city to make a living. Few dancers made it in the grand scheme of things, so Kimura was taking risks upon risks. Despite her adolescence, Kimura blossomed in the dancing industry and even climbed high enough to become a famous actor. Thus, she thrived in this society as a headstrong woman and later took that same attitude to New York to aid the suffrage movement.
After co-founding the Shin Shin Fujinkai, or the Real New Women’s Association, Kimura strived to see women's rights improve in her home country of Japan. To accomplish this, she journeyed to New York in 1917. Her main goals were to participate in the suffrage march, master the ways of the American suffragists, and raise awareness and funds for Japanese women’s suffragist endeavors. Unlike previous marches, the impact of this march caused the passing of the state referendum, making New York the fourteenth state to allow women to vote. Kimura’s efforts had helped out in America, so she took the same ideals to her home country to assist their suffrage campaign.
The suffrage movement in Japan hit its climax in the early 1920s in Japan, soon after Kimura’s arrival from America. However, Japanese women only gained the right to vote in 1945, which was roughly twenty years later. So, Kimura still had some work to do. She managed to publish a magazine inspiring women to stand out and have a voice, but it was quickly stifled by the Japanese government. The government then limited her influence by stopping Kimura from holding meetings in a public space to convey her liberating message. In response, Kimura wrote and acted in a play called “Ignorance,” in spite of the government. She then was put on trial, but she used the trial to publicize her cause for women's rights, and the government accidentally promoted it without realizing it. Hence, Kimura pushed for her cause to be known, even in the hardest of times.
In the USA, the Constitution’s nineteenth Amendment was enacted in1920, hindering states and the federal government from revoking the right to vote on the basis of gender. Voting was not accepted universally for all American women but was separated by race. Certain states voted not to ratify the Amendment until as late as 1984. Especially in Asian Americans communities, the process was drawn out. Chinese Americans won the right to vote first in 1943 due to their large presence in powerful states. After nine more years, the rest of the Asian Americans secured the right to vote under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Section 2 was very significant in this decision, for it bans voting bigotry due to race or classification with minority groups.
Kimura Komako was a woman who took upon herself to be leading the charge, as an actress, dancer, and activist. While she was not the best behaved with respect to her culture and time, she certainly sparked a suffrage movement in Japan and aided one in America. Her courage still spotlights the benefits of honest work and it is in need even today, more than a century after she joined the march for suffrage.