“Dainty hands do useful work”: Depicting Filipino women in Japanese wartime propaganda

This article analyzes the visual depiction of women in the Tribune, the main propaganda newspaper of Japan in the Philippines during the Pacific War. Japanese wartime propaganda painted an image of a productive and cooperative Filipina, respectable and modest like her Japanese counterpart. The analysis reveals three motivations for depicting women in said light: to show a semblance of normalcy despite the turbulent war, to entice women to serve Japan’s aims, and to disprove the Japanese women’s image as subservient wives or entertainers while asserting the connection between the two countries. Analyzing the depiction of women in Japanese propaganda contributes to the understanding of war as a gendered phenomenon. Beyond seeing women as symbols of the private obligations for which men fight or as surrogate objects of sexual desire, the image of women was perceived to be instrumental in showcasing Japan’s New Order.