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Japanese Feminist DebatesA Century of Contention on Sex, Love, and Labor$
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Ayako Kano

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824855802

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824855802.001.0001

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Beyond Choice and Fate

Beyond Choice and Fate

Debates on Reproduction

(p.64) Chapter 3 Beyond Choice and Fate
Japanese Feminist Debates

Ayako Kano

University of Hawai'i Press

Chapter 3 examines debates on reproduction, including contraception, birth control, family planning and abortion, and identifies four themes: economic distress, eugenics, nature, and the complexity of women’s lives. These are more complex than a binary between a moral or religious (“pro-life”) stance based on fetal personhood, or a women’s rights (“pro-choice”) call for reproductive choice. Economic discussions involved Malthusianism and remain part of discourse on parental responsibility in today’s Japan. Eugenics was the main rationale for control of reproduction in the prewar years, but critique from advocates of disability rights intersected with feminism in the 1970s, and today affects debates on selective abortion based on prenatal testing. Discussions of “nature” and “life” culminate in contemporary bioethical arguments against new forms of reproductive technology. The women’s rights argument in Japan has been expressed by the women's lib movement in the 1970s.

Keywords:   Japan, feminism, women, abortion, contraception, birth control, disability, prenatal testing, eugenics, women’s lib

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