Document 39: Ginjirō Iijima, "Birth control movement in Japan," published as "Nihon no jutai chōsetsu undō," Sanji Chōsetsu Hyōron, Vol. 4 (May 1925), reprinted in Nihon josei undō shiryō shūsei, dai 7-kan [Collection of documents related to women's movements in Japan, vol. 7], ed. Yuko Suzuki (Tokyo: Fuji shuppan, 1995), pp. 605-06. Translated by Kazuhiro Oharazeki.


   The movement in Japan grew rapidly between 1923 and 1925, as detailed in this article. Though the Tokyo-based Birth Control Society disbanded following the earthquake in September 1923, its members continued birth control advocacy work, including lectures in many parts of the country and a series of new publications. Two birth control consultation centers opened in Japan in 1924, and activists from Tokyo, including Isoo Abe, Kan Majima and Tokijiro Kaji, worked with rival birth control organizer Senji Yamamoto and the Osaka Birth Limitation Research Society to publish the influential new journal, Birth Control in February 1925.


   One day in May of the eleventh year of Taisho [1922], Baron Keikichi Ishimoto, Dr. Tokijirō Kaji, Waseda University Professor Isoo Abe, Mr. Komakichi Matsuoka, Mr. Tatsunosuke Okano, and others met at Unitarian Church Hall. In this meeting, they founded the Japanese Society for the Study of Birth Control, set up headquarters in Daidō Yōkō & Co. in Kyōbashi, and decided to issue its bulletin, Shō Kazoku [Small Family]. The publication of Shō Kazoku signaled the beginning of the neo-Malthusian movement in our country, but they had to cancel the publication after the first issue because of a problem concerning security money. Thereafter, the headquarters were moved to the Heimin Hospital; Mr. Kaji and Mrs. Ishimoto managed the Society's affairs; Mr. Mataichi Oguri served as Secretary to Mr. Okano; Mr. Kaji and Mr. Okano entrusted me with the work of studying contraceptives. In July, the Society changed its name to the Society for the Study of Birth Control, moved headquarters back to Daidō Yōkō & Co., ceased to issue Shō Kazoku, published the Society for the Study of Birth Control Series, and distributed them to like-minded people.

   Volume I, Shizue Ishimoto, Sanji seigen ron wo shohōmen yori kansatsu shite [Examination of the idea of birth control from various perspectives] (October 1922)[A]

   Volume II, Keikichi Ishimoto, Waga jinkō mondai to sanji chōsetsu ron [Population problem in our country and the idea of birth control] (December 1922)[B]

   Volume III, Part I, Shōnen Matsumura, Seibutsugaku jō yori mitaru sanji chōsetsu ron [Idea of birth control from a biological perspective] (January 1923)[C]

   Volume III, Part II, Shōnen Matsumura, Seibutsugaku jō yori mitaru sanji chōsetsu ron [Idea of birth control from a biological perspective] (March 1923)[D]

   Mrs. Ishimoto and Mr. Abe attended meetings held within the city to distribute books and give lectures, and at the request of people in distant areas, they made several trips to promote the [birth control] movement. The first organization dedicated to the idea [of birth control] in our country was thus organized, drawing its membership from all parts of the country. Unfortunately, however, the movement suffered a setback because of the Great Kanto Earthquake [of 1923][E], and differences of opinion among the leaders eventually split the organization into several factions.

   In June, Mr. Eiji Habuto published Hinin to sanji seigen hō [How to practice birth control].[F]

   In November, Mr. Kunjirō Sawada published Jissaiteki hinin to sanji seigen hō [Practical ways to prevent conception].[G]

   Their contents aside, the two books helped spread birth control information among people, thanks to the great promotion campaign.

   In June 1923, Mrs. Yoshiko Oda published Sanji seigen ron [Idea of birth control] as Culture Pamphlet, No. 20.]

   In August, Mrs. Shizue Ishimoto translated Margaret Sanger's The Pivot of Civilization, New York (1922), and published it as Bunmei no chūshū with her introduction. Sanger's other books are scheduled to be translated.

   In January 1924, I consulted with Mrs. Okano about the absence of a system through which [information about birth control] can be spread and decided to open a birth control clinic to give counsel to the public.

   In the same month, Mr. Tatsu Yaguchi translated Mrs. Marie Stopes's Married Love, 9th. Edit., London (1918) as Kekkon ai, and introduced the lady's vast knowledge of women's sexual psychology. In addition to this book, her several other books are scheduled to be translated.[H]

   On March 3, Mr. Hiroaki Miura published "Sanji seigen ron" [Idea of birth control] as part of Fujin mondai rokkō [Six lectures on women's problems].[I]

   From May 27, under the sponsorship of the Social Science Research Group, Mr. Senji Yamamoto, B.S., gave four lectures on sexology in [Tokyo] Imperial University Faculty of Technology Lecture Hall. In the fourth lecture, he discussed birth control.

   In May, the Pregnancy Control Clinic changed its name to the Conception Control Clinic, eliminated some problems, and adopted a membership system. At the same time, Mr. Okano and others established the Institute for the Study of Population Problems in Sugamo and collaborated with [the Conception Control Clinic] in spreading the idea [of birth control].

   Mr. Tokijirō Kaji established a clinic with Mr. Ryūshiro Ogawa as its head in June, and named it the Japan Pregnancy Control Clinic in August. They soon renamed it the Tokyo Pregnancy Control Clinic, and Mr. Ogawa published Ninshin chōsetsu no jitsu chishiki [Practical knowledge of pregnancy control].

   In September, the Pregnancy Control Clinic published the first volume of its book series, Jutai chōsetsu ron [Idea of pregnancy control] by Ginjirō Iijima, and distributed it among members throughout the country. In January 1925, it published the second volume of the series, Sosen no okonatta jinkō chōsetsu [Population control that our ancestors practiced] by Susa Shibata.

   Large numbers of Japanese-language and foreign-language books [on birth control] have been sold and are scheduled to be published, and I cannot list them all. Every day and month, increasing numbers of research articles and findings are being published at home and abroad.

   In February 1925, Senji Yamamoto and others established Birth Control Publishers and founded the monthly Sanji Chōsetsu Hyōron [Birth Control Review] to carry research articles written by both Japanese and foreign scholars.

   On the 20th of the same month, when Yamamoto visited Tokyo, the Fabian Society held a lecture on birth control in [Tokyo] Imperial University Buddhist Hall (and Harmony Hall on the second day). In the evening [of the first day], Mr. Yamamoto, Mr. Abe, and Mr. Mashima gave useful lectures, and despite the cold weather, a serious audience filled the hall.

   Thus, the advocates of birth control will deserve special mention in the shining pages of human struggle for freedom.


A. This is an 18-page pamphlet explaining that birth control is an effective means to produce better people and raise children properly. The author, Shizue Kato, tried to correct a notion that birth control will lead to the extinction of the Japanese race. This document was reprinted in Sei to seishoku no jinken shiryō shūsei [Collection of documents related to sexuality, reproduction, and human rights] (Tokyo: Fuji shuppan, 2000), pp. 80-85.
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B. This is a 35-page pamphlet, in which Baron Keikchi Ishimoto, a mining engineer and a member of the House of Peers, explained that birth control is the best way to solve the problem of Japan's rapidly increasing population, because other means--the emigration of the surplus population and the importation of food--are too costly for the government to afford. Reprinted in Sei to seishoku no jinken shiryō shūsei, pp.160-70.
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C. This is the first half of a 90-page article in which Shōnen Matsumura, an entomology professor at Hokkaido University, explained the need to restrict the reproduction of criminals and people with hereditary diseases for the general good of society. To achieve that goal, he argued, knowledge of birth control must be spread among people, especially the lower classes. This document was reprinted in Sei to seishoku no jinken shiryō shūsei, pp.174-202.
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D. This is the second half of a 90-page article by Shōnen Matsumura, an entomology professor at Hokkaido University. This document was reprinted in Sei to seishoku no jinken shiryō shūsei, pp.174-202.
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E. The Great Kanto Earthquake struck the Japanese island of Honshu on 1 September 1923, devastating Tokyo, Yokohama, and surrounding areas. An estimated 140,000 people perished, many from fires that resulted.
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F. The book referred to here is probably Sanji seigen to hinin [Birth control and contraception] published in July 1922 (192 pages in length). In the first part, the author, Eiji Habuto, a medical doctor and prolific writer on a wide range of topics in sexology, explained that birth control is necessary to prevent wars, liberate women, and improve the lives of children and the racial quality of the Japanese population. The second part is devoted to medical explanations of pregnancy, childbirth, sterility, and birth control. This document was reprinted in Sei to seishoku no jinken shiryō shūsei, dai 2-kan, pp.29-79.
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G. This book is probably Junjirō Sawada's Jissai ni okeru hinin oyobi sanji seigen no shin-kenkyu [New study of practical aspects of contraception and birth control] published in November 1922 (269 pages in length). Sawada, another prolific author in sexology, discussed the importance of birth control primarily from economic and eugenic perspectives, introducing many letters from his readers, most of them poor parents having difficulty rearing their children or physically weak mothers whose children, he believed, would inherit their diseases. This document was reprinted in Sei to seishoku no jinken shiryō shūsei, dai 2-kan, pp.86-159.
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H. Married Love was Marie Stopes's 1918 best-selling guidebook to sexuality and birth control. Stopes also published a shorter guide to contraception called Wise Parenthood (1919) and a guide to prenatal care and parenthood, Radiant Motherhood (1921).
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I. Hiroaki Miura, "Sanji seigen ron" [Idea of birth control], in Fujin mondai rokkō [Six lectures on women's problems], ed. Yoshiko Oda (Tokyo: Bunka kenkyu-kai shuppan-bu, 1924). The catalogue for the National Diet Library also shows that Radiant Motherhood (1921) was translated into Japanese as Kagayakeru bosei [Radiant motherhood], trans. Michio Hata (Tokyo: Sōbunsha, 1924).
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