One Chapter Reading Club

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Beate Sirota Gordon at Mills College 2011 (Commencement Speech No. 1)

ベアテ・シロタ・ゴードン ★★★★☆

I recently went to the commencement (graduation ceremony) at Mills College in Oakland California.

The commencement speaker was Beate Sirota Gordon (age 87) who helped write the Japanese Constitution after World War II. At the age of 22, Ms. Gordon wrote Articles 14 and 24, which guarantee rights for women.

The speech from the commencement is already available on Youtube.


At the beginning of the video, the president of the college introduces Ms. Gordon. She speaks in a loud, clear voice that is very easy to understand. Ms. Gordon’s speech is also given slowly and clearly. She talks about her childhood in Japan, her experiences as a student at Mills College, and then her work with the US government during World War II as an expert on Japan.

This is a unique chance to learn firsthand about Japanese history in English!

Other information on Ms. Gordon is available on Wikipedia (English and Japanese. You can also read the first few pages of her book, The Only Woman in the Room on

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アメリカでは5月が卒業式のシーズンで、各大学は著名人を招いて卒業スピーチ(commencement address/speech)を依頼します。先日カリフォルニアのミルズカレッジでは、ベアテ・シロタ・ゴードンがスピーチをしました。ベアテは1946年にGHQのメンバーとして日本国憲法の起草に携わり、「女性の権利」を推し進める人権保護規定の草案を作成しました。卒業スピーチの中で、ベアテは戦前の日本では”Women had no rights at all”と語っています。今私たちが当たり前だと思っている男女平等(equality of men and women)の精神を日本の憲法に盛り込もうとしたベアテのスピーチは、87才とは思えないほど力強く、ユーモアも忘れていません。

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