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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.

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