There were no prohibitions against the practice or dissemination of contraception in Japan, although there were restrictions against the marketing of certain products and some censorship of contraceptive information. Apart from condoms, which were widely available, more reliable woman-controlled methods were difficult to obtain. Pessaries and suppositories were available in some areas but it appears that most Japanese people relied on withdrawal and douching. Though the author concludes that each individual should make his and her own decision about birth control, he echoes eugenic perspectives popular in the West, that assumed that the middle- and upper-class would overuse birth control to the detriment of the nation, while the less educated, working-class would misuse it as they could not be trusted to use birth control without resorting to immoral behavior. Sanger rejected all versions of this argument and consistently advocated that each woman should have reproductive choice.
MY REFLECTION ON MRS. SANGER'S OPINION, PART II
Today birth control is permitted to practice, not only legally but also morally. Of course, there is no provision permitting birth control, but physicians and other medical practitioners all know that although not being publicized, a husband or wife, or both, if they have a disease which can be complicated by pregnancy, are practicing some forms of birth control. No one finds them immoral or illegal. Even after [women] become pregnant and a life begins to take shape, physicians are legally permitted to help [mothers] have an abortion if the childbirth will possibly have a bad effect on mothers' health.
Compared to [abortion], birth control is not a problem. As a too-big fetus will harm the mother's body without being removed, having too many children will also have a bad influence on parents. Therefore, we should praise it as a prudent act to prevent [conception] before childbirth. But sometimes, even a good thing can cause problems if it is misused. Birth control, too, if misused, can possibly lead to the establishment of no-child or one-child policy. Moreover, we should be aware that if [people] take advantage of being able to prevent conception, immoral activities like adultery may increase.
This is the reason why information about birth control can be open to the educated classes but not to uneducated or thoughtless people. This is also the reason why our government prohibits Mrs. Sanger from giving a lecture on birth control in public. Actually, however, anyone who has read a sexology book or has interest in the problem of population or eugenics knows how to practice birth control, and people do not need to rely on Sanger for that information.[A]
No matter how famous Sanger is, I do not think that she has some secret, undiscovered [birth control] technique. Neither do I think that her theory is particularly unique. [But] I rather sympathize with her cause, and therefore do not find any need [for people] to be scared when she stands on a platform in our country
The government may not prohibit [people] from listening to her talk in the gatherings of like-minded people or the meetings of academic associations, but [people] should not expect too much from her. The fact is that she became famous just because she started discussing what people have hesitated to talk about. Birth control is a matter of fact, not a subject for discussion.
Put simply, whether or not to practice birth control is not something to be decided by the public opinion but a matter of individual choice. Each individual must make the decision depending on his or her need.
A. A dozen sexology journals were published in Japan from the late 1910s to the early 1930s. Their editors believed that the propagation of "scientific" knowledge of sex was the key to young people's proper development and the decrease in the number of sex-related social problems, including adultery, wild marriages, and abortions. They gained support from a wide range groups, including pacifists, socialists, medical doctors, and educators. See Sabine Fruhstuck, Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), pp. 8-10, Chap. 3, passim.
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