People may be surprised to know abortion has been legal in Japan since 1949, more than a decade earlier than in other industrialized countries.
In subsequent years, abortion became socially accepted to the point that Japan drew international criticism for attracting foreigners seeking to terminate their pregnancies. Since the turn of the 21st century, around 300,000 abortions have been conducted in Japan each year.
Some commentators call Japan's approach to abortion contradictory, comparing it with the belated legalization of the pill, one of the few birth control methods that women can initiate that has a high success rate. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the pill in Japan, and yet the majority of Japanese prefer using condoms, citing the drug's expense and side effects.