A woman walks past barrels of sake wrapped in straw at Meiji shrine in Tokyo. Japan is considering allowing the purchase of morning-after pills at pharmacies without a prescription. (Photo: AFP)
When it comes to the struggle to reverse a low birth rate, Japan has tried it all, from cheaper nurseries and encouraging couples to spend more time at home to recently providing subsidies for those who get married under 40. A great deal of money has been pouring out from taxpayers in recent decades to fight the crusade against the hedonism of single living in the hope of igniting a demographic transformation.
The great challenge has been to convince the youth that having a family and children is, in the long run, a more gratified existential goal.
Therefore, when we read that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is considering allowing the purchase of afutaa piiru or morning-after pills at pharmacies without a prescription, we cannot help but think it's an April Fools’ Day joke. Only we look at the calendar and we are shaken in disbelief.
After a three-decades-long effort to instill in the public's mind the necessity for more pregnancies, now Japanese authorities plan to tell women that bearing a child is not such a serious matter after all, and that avoiding it is tantamount to dodging a fever, since buying a morning-after pill will be put on the same level as a self-medicating drug, just like an aspirin (today in Japan a woman can only obtain emergency contraceptive pills if she has a prescription after a doctor's appointment/consultation).
Does anyone see a contradiction?
Separating the concept of sexuality from procreation — in other words the Western sexual revolution — has been the most effective form of contraception, more than every other Western progressive dogma including the widespread use of contraceptives. Together they guarantee demographic collapse.
The notion that no one shall have children they expressly did not plan is tantamount to an unconscious extinction wish. We have seen it with the falling birth rate in the Western world. All the more in Japan, which is a country that sets the bar of being able to afford a child very high in terms of income — so high that most young people nowadays cannot achieve it.
We are not talking about depriving young women of the choice of terminating any unwanted pregnancies. We are talking about the right of those women to be given the option to fully grasp the practical, psychological and moral consequences of the act they are about to take. Let’s just ask ourselves why it is extremely rare to meet a woman who had regretted having a child she initially never planned to have.
Despite this common sense knowledge, the family planning ideology has been blindingly powerful (only the carefully planned pregnancy shall be accepted). So much so that a Tokyo university that has the name "Christian" in its title, the International Christian University (ICU), has voiced through many of its students strong opposition to the current conservative legislation.
One contribution that sparked the public dispute over contraception was a Change.org petition started by senior ICU student Kazuko Fukuda and a non-profit sex education organization called Pilcon (Asuko Someya). She asked people to support her call for emergency contraceptives to be accessible to all women.
According to a Mainichi Shinbun article, 16,500 people signed the online petition, which was then submitted to the health minister. The article informs us that Fukuda studied abroad in Sweden where “she was astonished by the breadth and depth of sex education and birth control methods she was introduced to there.”
In short, she witnessed how the progressive north European country dealt with sexual issues, including sex education, and the more relaxed use of the morning-after pill.
Since Sweden was taken as a model, we would imagine the country to be an exceptionally prosperous society. Yet we discover that fewer and fewer children are being born in Sweden over the past 10 years (despite huge immigration) and that the average age of conception for women is getting higher and higher. Sound at all familiar?
These are the same challenges that are afflicting Japan. But the real aim of this new legislation, they say, is to compassionately prevent women from obtaining an actual abortion. Well, it turns out that Sweden has one of the highest rates of abortion in Europe; if it's despite or thanks to the easy access to contraception we can’t say, but we sure hope that is not the desired outcome Japan is looking for.
We all know there is only one reason why such a proposal would be inspired by a country such as Sweden, and that is a general perception, more like a cliché, of it being an advanced political system, a more civilized society. But without any data to back it up, and actually with crucial data that contradicts it — Eurostat reported that from 2013-17 Sweden had one of the highest numbers of reported rapes in Europe — it is just wishful thinking.
This fixed idea that simply importing policies and customs from Western countries will be a step in the right direction toward progress is not only showing great confusion and misunderstanding on the Japanese side but it does betrays a huge and misplaced inferiority complex.
The next time taxpayers in Japan are asked to contribute to save the country from a demographic catastrophe, no one should be surprised if they react by pointing out the mesmerizing, gargantuan hypocrisy of it all.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.