[LMB] Japanese decisionmaking re pregnancy OT:

Azalais Malfoy tiamat at tsoft.com
Tue, 1 Jun 2004 13:14:16 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 1 Jun 2004, Damien Sullivan wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 01, 2004 at 07:42:02AM -0700, Dan Tilque wrote:
> > Infanticide and/or ab*rtion have been practiced in all cultures
> > throughout history (including the present day). It happens
> I know it's been common; the page made it sound like it was
> more so in Japan, though this sort of thing may be pretty hard
> to measure.

In general, ab*rtion is more common in Japan.  The notion of a
'right to birth' movement is pretty much unheard of there (or
elsewhere in non-Christian Asia) and is often met with derision
or disbelief.  It's not a Christian country and it never has
been, and these movements are practically never divorced from the
presence of a large Christian population.

Japanese women who become pregnant out of wedlock, during a
divorce process, or while they are in school get ab*rtions.  No
one tries to talk them out of it except in television dramas,
when husbands about to be dumped who find out that the wife is
pregnant use it as grovelling leverage.

As a corollary, until very recently, the birth of a child out of
wedlock was death to a woman's prospects there, until I'd say as
recently as *1998*.  Having a child out of wedlock in Japan is
still extremely difficult and marks you as a member of a very
specific counterculture, unless you are already an established
adult with what we like to call 'f*ckyou money' around here.

And while most people in Japan use condoms religiously, for years
the Japanese government forbade the use of all hormonal birth
control products (which are FAR more effective at preventing
pregnancy than condoms) because it considered a few hundred
thousand extra ab*rtions per year a far less important public
health issue than the spread of AIDS (and given the prevalence of
HIV in nearby 'resort' countries known for casual sex and
prostitution, such as Thailand, their chain of logic makes
sense--Japanese businessmen frequently go on junkets to Thailand
and have sex with prostitutes, so having wives use condoms
instead of assuming she's safe with the Pill is understandable.)

In order to get a fix on how many fetuses were ab*rted for actual
reasons of genetic disorder, you'd have to look only at the
percentage that were being carried by adult married women,
because 'yanmama' (teenage or early-twenties single mothers) are
so few and far between they have personals sites just to find one
another outside of large cities like Tokyo or Osaka.

Even within marriage the majority of Japanese have fewer
children.  Child care is almost impossible to find.  Women are
expected to stay home with small children and those who do work
are not exempted from the long hours all working people in Japan
are expected to keep, which means they are at home without help
from the husband.  This means a very lowered birthrate.

The government has long been fairly happy with this but now they
are concerned that many Japanese do not want to marry or have
families at all, as this coupled with the price of real estate
means that it's easier to work and stay on in the family home
(which is already paid for)--marrying and having a family means
taking on rent and the price of baby supplies plus losing an
income.  Changes are being considered but at the usual glacial
pace of Japanese social reform.

Under the circumstances few people would choose to take the risk
of having a child who would require special help and be in the
household under the mother's care even longer than normal, let
alone for life as some Down's syndrome children require.  It
would be considered a very great sacrifice by the older
generations and socially irresponsible and self-destructive by
younger ones.

~malfoy, not sure we should even be discussing it here and hoping
all responses to this remain strictly sociological :)

(NB: The instant someone jumps in with how AWFUL Japanese
men/culture/whatever are/is, I'm OUT of this discussion, because
then I shall be forced to give an opinion of my own that no-one
on any side of the issues involved, which are several, will be
even remotely close to agreeing with completely, let alone

"That wickedness weltering around inside of you, inside of everyone, is
sacred somewhere.  There's a deity out there who digs it.  You can respect
and love your darkest side, disposing only of what is obsolete or
impractical.  It's all about giving yourself permission." --Jack Darkhand

"It is better to be cruel for love than for hate." --Thomas Burnett Swann