Trial roll-out of over-the-counter morning-after pill begins in Japan

Japan has begun a trial roll-out of the morning-after pill, finally bringing availability of emergency contraception in line with most other industrialized nations.

To the chagrin of condom manufacturers (of whom Japan has some of the best in the world), a lot — if not most — sex in Japan is unprotected, resulting in a lot of unwanted pregnancies or fears of conception (not to mention, an explosion of syphilis cases).

Sometimes it seems that every celebrity marriage is the result of the woman in the partnership getting pregnant, which is hardly the best example to set (and, let’s be frank, probably not the best way to initiate marriage).

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Though abortion is also common (122,725 women underwent abortions in fiscal 2022) and largely free of the stigma it carries in other cultures, Japan has lagged in terms of providing women with easy access to the morning-after pill. It was previously only available with a prescription from certain medical practitioners with an appointment.

Now women will be able to take the morning-after pill without a prescription, as reported earlier in the year. (Japan also finally approved the abortion pill last year, but requires the male partner’s consent.)

Over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception began on November 28 at between two and six pharmacies in each prefecture of Japan (a total of 145), the result of years of campaigning by citizen groups. That’s a tiny number, of course, but this is just a trial run and hopefully will lead to a full roll-out next year.

Women must make an appointment at the pharmacy in advance and pay up to ¥9,000. Moreover, pharmacists are not permitted to give to anyone under 16 and 16- and 17-year-olds have to be accompanied by a legal guardian.

In tangentially related news, Tokyo ranked bottom of all Japan’s prefectures in total fertility rate, and the number of births in Tokyo fell for the seventh consecutive year — down down 4,307 to to 91,097 in 2021.

Marriages are actually up (should we thank a post-pandemic boost to dating? Or thank Tinder?) up 5,366 from 2021. The marriage numbers are the highest in Japan, but that’s hardly surprising considering the population of Tokyo compared to other places.

But people get married later in Tokyo, with ages the highest in Japan: the average age of first marriage is 32.3 years for husbands and 30.7 years for wives.

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  • Lorenzo December 4, 2023

    If it wasn’t for unprotected sex none of us would be alive.

  • TheDude December 4, 2023

    Creampie Time!

  • jack from downunder December 6, 2023

    Not sure if Japan needs this, the population is already declining at a fast rate, why introduce something that will speed the process up.

  • Tadashi Anahori (Post author) December 6, 2023

    @jack from downunder

    Do you think enabling more unwanted pregnancies to go to term is the solution to population decline? Do you think it’s a good way to start a family? We’re not convinced.

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