Document 8: Baron Keikichi Ishimoto, "Birth Control the Only Solution Seen," Japan Advertiser, 4 March 1922, p. 2 (translated from the Asahi Weekly).


   Higher unemployment and a recession in the early 1920s highlighted the link between economic problems and too rapid population growth for the Japanese government. However, government leaders believed industrial progress, emigration and increased trade would accommodate the increase in population, which would ultimately strengthen the nation. Japanese birth control advocates such as Baroness Shidzue Ishimoto's husband, Baron Keikichi Ishimoto, emphasized Malthusian arguments in calling for population control measures, but rejected the standard remedies, focusing on birth control as the only solution.

[p. 2]



Baron Ishimoto Reviews
Possibilities of Accommodating
Population to Food.




Not Enough Ships and Money to
Import Rice--Wells and
Bertrand Russell Right.


   Birth control in the last analysis is the only way for Japan to meet the problem presented by a growing population and a static food supply, according to an article by Baron Keikichi Ishimoto published in the Asahi Weekly. Baron Ishimoto takes up the matter of the increase in population, the possibilities of emigration in various directions, and the question of importing food, but at the end comes to the conclusion that Bertrand Russell and H. G. Wells are right; Japan must regulate her population, whether it is moral or immoral. The article follows:

   The investigations made last year showed that the population in Japan increases by 600,000 to 700,000 every year. It goes without saying that the situation will become more serious if this state of affairs is left alone in view of the fact that already Japan is one of the most densely populated countries on earth.

   There are two ways to find a solution of the question one peaceful and the other not. By the unpeaceful method is meant war, but such an idea is impossible in the future in view of the international naval holiday decided upon by the Washington conference. Then attention centers around the other method--that is, the peaceful one. What is meant by it? It can be subdivided into three phases--emigration, importation of foodstuffs for the ever increasing population at home, and birth control. Is it possible for 600,000 to 700,000 persons to emigrate every year?

Not Even Enough Ships.

   It is necessary to study the Japanese population abroad in order to see whether it is possible or not. The Japanese population abroad in 1919 stood at 590,000, 490,000 in 1918, and 450,000 in 1917. The rate of increase is very small and it must be remembered that the 590,000 abroad is the result of the constant emigration during the past 50 years. This is in spite of the fact that the emigration to Siberia and Manchuria and other parts of Asia has been easy although the emigration to America and Australia is made difficult. The increase of the Japanese population abroad stands at between 10,000 and 20,000 a year. In this also the Japanese children born abroad is included and so the actual rate of increase in emigration amounts to a low figure. It is therefore safe to declare it impossible to deal with the annual increase of 600,000 to 700,000 people in Japan by means of emigration. What is the reason for this failure of Japanese emigration? The opposition in America and Australia is the largest reason, of course, and the movement in those countries is not only due to racial prejudices and political reasons, but also to the low character of the Japanese immigrants in general.

   What about the emigration to Korea, Manchuria and Siberia then? The Japanese emigrants to these places cannot compete with the Korean and Chinese laborers, who work for 30 to 40 sen a day. This is most convincingly illustrated by the fact that the immigration of Japanese farmers to Korea for the last 10 years amounted to only about 30,000 in spite of the most indefatigable efforts made by the Oriental Development Company for the purpose. It is therefore impossible for Japan to solve her population difficulty satisfactorily through emigration unless she finds some proper place or country where the Japanese can live comfortably.

   Viscount Takahashi, the Premier, thinks that Central and South America hold bright prospects for the Japanese emigrants and urges the people to go there, but it costs about ¥200 per capita for emigrants to go there and another ¥200 before the immigrant can find a job. Thus about ¥400 will be required for each emigrant. Supposing Japan sends 600,000 people there, it will cost about ¥240,000,000. Such a huge expenditure will be impossible unless the budgets for the navy and the army are cut in half forever. The question of steamship accommodation must also be taken into consideration in this connection. A steamer of the type of the T.K.K. Shinyo Maru can carry about 800 passengers and it takes about two months for the ship to go to Central or South America and return. Supposing six return trips can be made a year, one ship can take 4,800 people a year. Thus it will be seen that 120 ships of the Shinyo Maru type would be required to carry 600,000 people there annually. The Shinyo Maru is a 20,000 ton ship and it means that 2,400,000 tons would be necessary yearly for the purpose. Now the total tonnage of Japanese shipping stands in the vicinity of 2,920,000, according to investigations made in 1920. Judging by the facts cited above, it would be impossible for 600,000 people a year to emigrate even from an economic point of view.

No Hope in Rice Imports.

   Next attention is drawn to the possibility of coping with the ever increasing population by means of imports of foodstuffs from abroad. The first question that has to be considered in this connection is the relation between the Japanese people and rice, which is the staple foodstuff for them. The annual rate of increase of population in Japan for the last 10 years has been 14 per cent on an average, for land under cultivation 5 per cent and of rice production 10 per cent. As the standard of living goes higher, the consumption of rice increases year after year; today the consumption of rice stands at 1.15 koku a year per head on an average. The import of rice has been made imperative to cope with the increasing demand. The yearly import during the six years between 1913 and 1918 amounted to between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 koku on the average. What will be the relations between the population and rice in 1931 if the situation is left alone? The population will stand at 62,000,000, (at the rate of 12 per cent increase a year), the rise consumption at 86,000,000 koku (at the rate of 1.43 koku a year consumed per persons), and the rice production in Japan at 66,000,000 koku (at the rate of 10 per cent increase a year). Thus it will be seen that Japan will be suffering from a shortage of as much as 20,000,000 koku of rice a year. Calculating the price of rice at ¥20 per koku, ¥400,000,000 will be required to import the shortage.

   The trade of Japan has increased between two to four times for the last ten years, while the import trade of rice will have to be increased by five to six times for the coming ten years. As a matter of fact the rice import has been worst of all import trades. Altogether it would be impossible to anticipate such a ridiculous increase in the importation of rice, but the authorities of the Department of Agriculture and Commerce always try to assure us of the possibility of meeting the increasing shortage of rice in Japan with import of foreign rice. The facts cited above, however, do not warrant such an optimistic view. By way of coping with the food problem a scientific study must be made means for the increase of rice production on the one hand and the prevention of unnecessary consumption on the other. In a country like Japan, where things are washed by luxury, there may yet be room for the prevention of unnecessary consumption of rice, but as regards the increase of production, it may safely be declared to be impossible, as is shown by the fact that no country in the world produces so much rice per acre as Japan. The producing capacity of the rice fields in Japan are taxed to their maximum extent. This view is endorsed by Dr. Otohei Inagaki, the best authority on the subject in Japan. It would be impossible to solve the food problem except by eating rice mixed with various inferior cereals, which the Japanese people cannot stand.

Practiced in Other Countries.

   Now the remaining way of solving the population question lies in birth control. Apart from whether it is right or wrong, Japan will have to adopt the policy in order to cope with her ever increasing population. There is no other so effective way. It is most important for both the Government and the people of Japan to make a serious and careful study of the question. It is not the intention here to argue whether birth control is good or bad, or to discuss means for enforcing it. Birth control is now the most important question of the world. In England, America, France and Germany, the stage of argument is already past and these countries are now entering on the stage of practice. In Holland, the Government itself is encouraging birth control. Two of the greatest men of thought in the world, Bertrand Russell and H. G. Wells, have both warned the Japanese nation, saying that Japan must adopt birth control, an advice which the people of Japan cannot overlook.

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