Yoko Ono is a Japanese multimedia artist, peace activist, and singer-songwriter. She came into prominence after marrying John Lennon of the Beatles. She is widely criticized for her unquestionable influence over John Lennon and his music. She is also often blamed for the disbandment of The Beatles. Despite all these criticisms, Yoko Ono continues to go on her merry way.
Joi Ito is a Japanese venture capitalist and entrepreneur best known for his association with Internet and technology companies. He is credited with founding several companies like Infoseek Japan, Digital Garage, and PSINet Japan. Over the years, Joi Ito has been honored with several prestigious awards like the Golden Plate Award and the IRI Medal.
Initially the commander of the Tosa troops, Itagaki Taisuke participated in the Meiji Restoration. He was the founder of the Liberal Party, which was the first Japanese political party. Itagaki was later stabbed by a right-wing militant, to whom he reacted by saying “Itagaki may die, but liberty, never.”
A Japanese Christian social reformer, Toyohiko Kagawa was educated at the Princeton Theological Seminary in the US and later spearheaded the Friends of Jesus band in Japan, encouraging compassion for the poor and women’s suffrage. His written work is preserved in the 24-volume Kagawa Toyohiko Zenshu.
A pioneer of the birth control movement in Japan, Shidzue Katō was a hardcore feminist and also one of Japan’s first female politicians. A founder-member of the Japan Family Planning Association, she advocated the use of oral contraceptive pills. She was once also arrested for opposing the Japanese government.
Oku Mumeo was a Japanese feminist politician who played an important role in the modern Japanese suffrage movement. Renowned for her activism in the 1920s, Mumeo also played key roles in many other women's rights movements in Japan. Oku Mumeo co-founded the New Women's Association along with Ichikawa Fusae and Hiratsuka Raichō and went on to become an influential politician.
Japanese translator and scholar Komaki Ōmiya was better known by his pseudonym, Ōmi Komaki. Born to a politician in Japan, he quit school to be with his father at a conference in France, and never left. Back in Japan, years later, he promoted communism and translated works of French authors.
Poverty-stricken since an early age, Suzuki Bunji later became a champion for labor rights and established the labor-oriented organization Yūaikai. He was also one of the early Christian converts of Japan. He also helped develop the Social Democratic Party and was part of the Japanese Diet.
Fuki Kushida was a Japanese women's rights activist who served as the first Secretary General of the Women's Democratic Club. She is also known for her association with the Federation of Japanese Women's Organizations where she served as the president. Also a peace activist, Kushida is remembered for leading protests against the establishment of the US military bases in Japan.