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The government is expected to approve the contraceptive pill for women in June, government officials said Wednesday.

The central pharmaceutical affairs committee of the Health and Welfare Ministry has concluded nine years of discussions on the pill, the officials said.

The committee will hold a final meeting in June to officially announce its recommendation that the pill be approved for use in Japan. The recommendation will be handed to Health and Welfare Minister Sohei Miyashita.

Debate about the pill in Japan’s media has been fueled by the Health Ministry’s swift approval of the male anti-impotence drug Viagra, delivered on Jan. 25 after just six months’ debate.

Speculation about Japan’s refusal to legalize the pill has run unchecked. Some people believe it is due to the medical lobby, which supposedly wants to maintain a lucrative abortion business, while others see it as a government plot to keep women under control.

The government had cited concerns about side effects, although it does allow a high-dose version of the pill to be prescribed for hormonal problems, somewhat undercutting its argument.

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