Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Politicians and the media lament the low birthrate that is contributing to population decline in Japan. Personally, I don’t think that Japan has a population problem. The real “problem”has been that the country has been over-populated for too long. Happily, it is now starting to move towards an appropriate, more natural level. But while we are listening to these common lamentations we might say that there is in fact a surprising and deep-rooted antipathy towards motherhood and children in this culture that contributes to the perceived problem. It is a strange assertion, but evidence the information provided in such stories as “Woman rejected by seven hospitals after giving birth,” and “191 multiple refusals of pregnant women found,” September 28, 2007. Now add to that list the October 4 story “60-year-old pregnant with donated embryo”, in which it is said that “obstetricians are basically prohibited from assisting births resulting from donated embryos because the lack of a direct biological relationship causes legal problems that have not yet been resolved by the courts”.
What’s up with that? Fact: a woman is pregnant. Fact: she needs medical oversight and, assuming that she properly pays her health insurance premiums, she is entitled to it. Even if she has not paid her health insurance she is still entitled to medical care as a basic human right. Or, is that another international declaration that Japan ignores? Not to treat her (as if she were a younger woman, or a married woman) risks contributing to other sad statistics, namely infant mortality, maternal delivery mortality, or any of a host of pregnancy and birth-related complications. She requires medical care. She pays for medical care. She has a right to medical care. Politicians and doctors are public servants - employees - and it is not their place to“prohibit” citizens from receiving that which is their rightful due. The manner of her pregnancy is irrelevant. Or not.