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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 May 8 - 14  > Women protest against Abe’s plan of childbirth handbook
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2013 May 8 - 14 [WOMEN]

Women protest against Abe’s plan of childbirth handbook

May 9, 2013
The New Japan Women’s Association on May 8 submitted a statement to the government in protest against the plan to distribute handbooks dealing with pregnancy and childbirth as a means to encourage young women to have children.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo claims that the so-called “women’s handbook” is a key measure to tackle the low birthrate in Japan. The government plans to give out the handbooks that show the disadvantages of late child-bearing in order to persuade young women to avoid late marriage and delayed maternity.

The statement criticizes the prime minister for intentionally ignoring the real reason why young people are shying away from having children. It stressed that in order to stimulate the birthrate, the government should take measures to increase wages, create stable jobs, build more children’s daycare centers, improve the child-care leave system, and shorten working hours.

It also points out that the handbook is unacceptable from the viewpoint of women’s reproductive rights, the idea that women have rights to decide whether to have a child, when to get pregnant, and how many children to have.

The women’s group demands that the government immediately abandon the plan to distribute the handbook and take measures to help young couples to obtain decent work conditions that will enable a balancing of work and child-rearing responsibilites.


A citizens’ group and a labor union expressed their oppositions to the government’s plan to widely distribute a women’s handbook.

“I wonder why only specifying women?” said Yoshida Hiroki who serves as a representative of the Fathering Japan, an NPO helping fathers to get more actively engaged in child-rearing. Stressing that raising children is not a challenge only for mothers, he said that it is, at least, needed to have fathers take a larger role in child-rearing.

Onishi Reiko, general secretary of the Women's Section of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), said, “More and more young workers are having difficulties in balancing their jobs and child-rearing because of long working hours and unstable employment. Advocates of the handbook don’t understand this situation.” She stated that in order to encourage young people to have more children, the government should fund programs to meet their needs, such as building more children’s daycare centers.
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