Reproductive Health in Japan

Japanese reproductive situation seems very different from those of other nations. It sure is. But it is not the exotic mistery that makes ours different. Now, let's exchange the views on sexuality, life, pregnancy, abortion, child-rearing etc... I will try to explain our situation. Would you please let me know yours?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Poor reproductive situation among Japanese women

Now I am writing a paper which should be part of my dissertation on the much needed paradime shift of abortion argument in Japan. Actually there is little argument on the topic of abortion here. Abortion is such a taboo in this nation that few people talk about it publicly although more than 300 tousands of the operation were held yearly and more than twenty percent of Japanese women in their reproductive age are said to have experienced abortion. The rate of sterilization is very low among Japanese. Abortion is said to be used more as an alternative of birth control especially among married couples than other countries.

There is much saying that in this high-tech society, the Japanese use only low-tech methods for birth control. Low-doze contraceptive pills were finally allowed here in 1999 when other nations are moving toward legalizing RU-486, the import of which has virtualy forbidden by the Japanese government. Actually, contraceptives in Japan are so highly-priced and there is no refund from health insurance. You won't surprise that only few women go to the bother of using contraceptive pills in Japan after knowing how expensive they are and how hard to get those pills under strict supervision by doctors.

On the other hand, the archaic D & C has been used since Meiji period, and presumably is still used now in Japan, as the main method for the purpose. Even the vacuum abortion seems not to have permiated well among the Japanese ob-gyns. Several times I mensioned the manual vacuum aspiration for abortion to Japanese doctors, which most doctors did not know and barely one doctor recognized as a method used in a poor country. There is no psychological care. There is no pre- and/or post-operation psychological counseling in almost all ob-gyn clinics. A few caring doctors adopt such counseling system, but some of the doctors just do it themselves as a part of their there is no refund not only for the counseling but also for the abortion procedure itself. As a result, the abortion cost itself is very high compared with other Western nations.

After all, since abortion is a taboo here, women who fall into pregnant unintently seek their solution secretly within the limited information. I hope I could clear it out that the reproductive health for the Japanese women has not been respected, and we must change the situation.

(c) Kumi Tsukahara, 2006/04/28.
(The original draft was shown in my Japanese blog on 2006/04/16. I talk more surrounding the topic in Japanese language on

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Reproductive health in Japan

I have started this blog to share information about the reproductive health in Japan. Although Japan literally has liberalized abortion in 1948 to reduce the over-flodded population of this war-inflicted nation, its criminal law has been prohibiting the procedure. Our legal system does not let women to choose our reproductive destiny, and we are barely allowed to choose it for our physical health. Wives still need written permission on the procedure from their husbands. However, Japanese women, even the feminists, keep silence on this topic, probably because the "economic reason" clause if applied so loosely that most of the 300 thousand abortions a year in this nation done on that ground. The Japanese situation is very different from other Western nations, and there is little discussion surrounding the problem. So, I hope we could share the different view on this topic to improve each of our reproductive health situations.