Curiosities about Abortion in Japan

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Abortion (中い- Chūzetsu) in Japan has been legalized since 1948. Fortunately Japan has a rather small unwanted pregnancy rate. It is not common religious, or moral discussions around the release of abortion, the only concern of the government is that this helps to lower the Japanese birth rate which is a major problem.

Japan only allows abortion with the consent of the mother and if it is for a valid reason. Anyone who tries to practice or induce abortion without the consent of the mother or using clandestine and unauthorized methods can be punished and imprisoned.

The History of Abortion in Japan

Japan has a long history of abortion, it has long been banned from 1842 until 1923. After this year doctors were allowed to perform abortion in emergency cases where they put their mother's life at risk. After World War II Japan suffered food shortages and ended up legalizing abortion.

Currently, abortion is widely accepted by more than 70% of the population in Japan, this does not mean that they agree to abort, just have no problems with the law that allows abortion and thinks it is the family's option to decide such an act.

Another big factor is that the Japanese do not have the habit of meddling in the lives and decision of others, they find lack of respect and education go against an opinion of others.

It is worth remembering that abortion is something that happens many centuries worldwide. Previously, absurd methods such as kicking her mother's belly were used, exposing the pregnant woman to the intense cold and etc.

There have been several bizarre cases of abortion and baby murders that made the government decide to legalize abortion, one of them was a midwife who ended up killing hundreds of newborn babies, with false argument of being concerned about the condition of families in raising babies.

Curiosities about Abortion in Japan - crianças 1

Abortion for no reason is not allowed in Japan, but…

Another thing that many end up confusing is that Japan does not allow abortion for any reason. Abortion in Japan is only available to women in limited circumstances, with compromised health or economic difficulties.

However, licensed physicians who supervise and perform abortion turn a blind eye to these rules. So any woman can use a simple pretext to abort without having problems with the law.

According to Japanese law, you can abort case:

  • Pregnancy was a result of rape.
  • You can't afford to support your son.
  • It could compromise the health of the mother.
  • It can harm the mental or mental health of the mother.
  • You can't have the mental conditions to take care of a child.

Data on abortion in Japan

The figures show that doctors and families are not honest about the reasons allowed for abortion. About 250,000 abortions happen in Japan a year, it is impossible for this number to be mothers with problems. 

Every 1,000 pregnant women in Japan are believed to have 40 aborts. It is worth remembering that the numbers are never accurate, since doctors end up hiding these numbers so as not to pay taxes or to abort for no valid reason.

Curiosities about Abortion in Japan - enkou 2

Japan has the lowest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world. Only 4 out of every 1,000 pregnancies are girls under the age of 19. Of the abortions that happen in Japan, only 8% belong to young people under the age of 20. One of the things that end up causing teenagers to commit abortion is discrimination with pregnant young women.

Curiosities about abortion

You've probably heard about the Kokeshi, who are quite popular wooden dolls like ornaments and souvenirs. These dolls were originally used by families who had had an abortion (natural or induced). They were placed in the house to represent the unborn child and thus try to repair the evil they did.

Curiosities about Abortion in Japan - kokeshi 3

In Japan there are also many temples dedicated to "mizuko" meaning "water children", but one of the explanations for the etymological origin of this word is that using other kanji but maintaining the same reading, this word can mean "unseen children" ( because they did not come to birth).

Many women who have had abortions go to these temples to pray for the souls of aborted children, as a way to ask forgiveness and repair the error. When I've been traveling to Japan I found this in the temple near Tokyo Tower (See highlight photo at the top of the article).

My conclusion on the subject

I was quite relieved to know that before the law abortion for any reason is prohibited, it is a pity that this rule is not fully applied firmly and many abortions are committed for futesis reasons.

The truth is that abortion in Japan is a rather delicate issue and I unfortunately didn't have time to address even half the subject. Although Japan allows abortion, it is curious to mention that even in Brazil being banned, more than one million abortions happen per year.f

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