It is common knowledge that Japan is in more economic trouble than most as a result of its low birth rate, and it seems that Japanese politicians are taking the situation increasingly seriously.  One Japanese politician has come up with a fairly commonsensible plan to increase the country’s ailing birth rate – ban abortions. 

It is true that without the effect of so many abortions many countries’ birth rates would increase to at least replacement level.  However it is surprising that the suggestion should surface first in Japan –a non-Christian, largely secular minded country.  Blog “Japan Crush” reports Seiko Noda, a legislator in Japan’s House of Representatives who has worked on the birthrate issue for many years and served in several cabinet positions, as saying:

With 200,000 pregnancies being terminated per year, if we are to counteract the falling birthrate, then we must begin there. I intend to have this reviewed in the party’s Special Committee on Population Decline in Society following the Upper House elections. We will not only prohibit abortion, but instead of prohibition we must also create laws (to mediate) child adoption, and prepare an environment in which children who are born can be brought up in society.

Under current Japanese law, virtually anyone can have an abortion.  I’m not sure what the current number of abortions each year is (Noda suggests 200,000 above) but in 2009 there were 223,444 – although apparently Japanese statistics are not very accurate because doctors under report them to avoid income tax payments and because of social pressure to protect women’s confidentiality.  For interest’s sake, the figure has decreased by more than 100,000 since 2000 when it was 341,146 (did it actually reduce or did income taxes increase one wonders – let’s hope for the former).

Based on commentary I have seen, the average Japanese citizen does not appear crazy about Noda’s proposal.  However, for a country with such a big baby problem, it does seem crazy that so many are killed each year.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...