Kanno Sugako was an anarcho-feminist Japanese journalist by profession. She was the author of a series of articles about gender oppression, and a defender of freedom and equal rights for men and women.
Kanno was raped at fifteen. She had her first contact with socialism when reading an essay about the victims of sexual abuse. At seventeen, she married a man belonging to a merchant family in Tokyo in order to escape the mistreatment of her stepmother.
Kanno began writing in a journal and began to engage in a Christian women’s movement against the system of legal brothels. With the start of the Russo-Japanese war, she joined the Socialist-Christian peace movement and in 1906 she became head of a newspaper in the province of Wakayama and began a relationship with the socialist leader Arahata Kanson (1887–1981).
Upon returning to Tokyo, she was involved in an anarchist manifesto whose leaders were arrested in the Red Flag Incident of June 1908. While visiting friends in prison, she was arrested. Upon her release two months later, she met the anarchist Shūsui Kōtoku (1871–1911). Together, they began publishing an anarchist newspaper which was banned by the authorities. Kanno was arrested again.
In 1910, she was accused of treason by the Japanese government. She was the first woman with the status of political prisoner to be executed in the history of modern Japan.