In Dec. 2016, Dr. Yasuhiko Onoe, a urologist, was on the TBS Radio talk show "Session-22" discussing the alarming rise in sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in Japan. During his explanation, he struck an odd note whenever he referred to the male sex organ, calling it by the childish word "ochinchin."

This reluctance to use grownup vocabulary when talking about sex is common in the media. The English "penis" — which rhymes with "Venice" in katakana — is the preferred technical term when discussing male genitalia in Japan, but even that seems to be taboo in broadcast situations. Sexual squeamishness is not unusual, but when doctors avoid certain words you know the problem goes deeper.

On March 16 this year, the Liberal Democratic Party's Toshiaki Koga, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, complained about a sex education class that was taught on March 5 at a public junior high school in Adachi Ward, which had earlier conducted a survey asking students if they thought it was all right for high schoolers to have sex. Forty-four percent answered "yes." According to the Asahi Shimbun, based on the results, the unnamed school projected that the number of abortions would rise among students after they entered high school, and so devised the special class, which covered condom use, among other topics.