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The threat of HIV/AIDS in Japan, especially among young people, is far more alarming than the government may want to think, an expert warned during a symposium Friday.

Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association, cited the behavioral patterns of youths and a lack of sex education as the main factors behind this assertion.

Japan is one of the few developed nations where both the rate of teenage abortions and the number of people infected by sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, he said on the third and final day of a symposium on HIV/AIDS held at the United Nations University in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

The symposium was organized by the U.N. Development Program and other bodies. Some 13,000 people are contracting HIV and 8,000 are dying of AIDS across the globe each day.

According to Kitamura, the rate of Japanese girls who had abortions between the ages of 15 and 19 rose from 6.2 per 1,000 in 1995 to 13 per 1,000 in 2000. Yet the trends underlying these figures is much more frightening, he said.

“The figure includes all the girls in the age group, including those without sexual experience. If we calculate the figure only from sexually active girls, who account for 40 percent of their generation, the figure could increase three-fold.”

Genital chlamidial infection, a type of sexually transmitted infection, is also spreading rapidly, he said.

Some 28.3 percent of girls aged between 10 and 14, along with 26.3 percent of girls between 15 and 19, who have visited one particular gynecologist were found to have contracted the virus, he said.

These statistics are not promising in terms of the country’s future defense against HIV/AIDS. Kitamura said he would not be at all surprised if an explosive infection of the virus were to take place in Japan now.

He blamed the situation primarily on the government, which seems to avoid the issue of sex as if it is afraid to “wake a sleeping child.”

He slammed the inadequate sex education offered at Japanese schools. He said this scenario is dangerous as it deprives children of awareness regarding their sexual reproductive rights, along with their rights to make decisions concerning their own sexuality.

“Although we claim to be a nation of science, it took 10 years after pharmaceutical companies applied for the oral contraceptive pills before they were approved by the government in 1999,” he said.