New movement on contraception in Japan

September 26 is World Contraception Day. A global campaign is held on this day to help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

A new movement has begun in Japan to spread awareness of various contraceptives so that women can take the initiative in birth control. Women in Japan currently have limited choices compared to other countries.

A United Nations report says that in Japan, condoms constitute 75 percent of methods used, showing a tendency to rely on male contraceptives. The use of birth control pills in the country remains at 6 percent. In Western countries, birth control pills constitute 31 percent, condoms 25 percent and intrauterine devices, or IUDs, 14 percent.

In Japan, it is not rare for men to refuse to use contraceptives, leading to unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Fukuda Kazuko, a 26-year-old working for an international organization, launched a project to shed light on the problems of contraception in Japan. She says that birth control pills are available at drug stores or distributed for free in other countries.

She also says many different methods, such as contraceptive implants, are not authorized in Japan nor are contraceptive patches worn on the skin.

Fukuda is currently an advisor to a think tank, the Health and Global Policy Institute. She is helping to prepare a place where young women can casually discuss sex in cafes near universities at seven locations in Tokyo.

The organizers plan to raise awareness of various contraceptives and distribute condoms for free at the cafes. Experts will also be available for consultation.

Fukuda is also developing an educational kit of contraceptives such as those used in schools in Western countries that take a hands-on approach.

She plans to distribute the kit to high school infirmaries, along with a leaflet containing information on sexually transmitted diseases and where to get help.

Fukuda says there is still prejudice in Japan against women using contraceptives and a general atmosphere exists that makes it difficult for women to discuss the issue.

She says if people understood that contraception is a right entitled to women to protect her health, career and future, then it would help bring down the price of contraceptives as well as provide more choices.

Fukuda adds that people need to be able to learn about contraception from a young age and be able to discuss it in a secure environment. She also says more people should be able to offer support.