According to the newspaper, the central government planned to distribute an information booklet about pregnancy and childbirth only to women for the purpose of raising the nation’s low birthrate.
It abandoned the plan following criticism in the Diet. Some people said the idea reminded them of a World War II slogan: “Women should give birth for the sake of the nation.” Others said passing out the booklet only to women would give the impression that childbirth and child rearing are women’s concerns only.
I agree that the government should not give such an impression, but on the other hand, we find that not just a few women in Japan misunderstand some facts about pregnancy and child rearing. For example, it becomes difficult for women who are 45 or older to have a child even by artificial insemination — because of the deterioration of female eggs. Many women in Japan are ignorant of this since schools usually didn’t teach it to them. It is also said that many women give up on having a child because of financial difficulties, even though various support programs are provided by the central government and municipalities.
Such information should be made available to women and men. And the government should strive to have Japanese men realize that they also are responsible for child rearing and housekeeping.
Nobody believes that merely passing out a booklet could serve as a vital countermeasure against the low birthrate. All the same, government and business leaders should try to change the male-oriented customs and ways of thinking with regard to childbirth.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.