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women are birth-giving machines...

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annie
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women are birth-giving machines...

Postby annie » January 31st, 2007 10:31 am

According to the Health, Labor, and Welfare Minister...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6306685.stm

from the Japan Times today...
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070131a4.html

More interesting to point out though is that the statement has largely been ignored by Japan. None of my friends on mixi have posted about it, none of the teachers in school have mentioned it.

Out of curiosity I ran a google search for Yanagisawa and "birth giving machine" in both Japanese and English and got 551 hits in Japanese and 122,000 in English. Not that this necessarily means anything, since I don't really know how google works, but there it is.

JohnCBriggs
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Postby JohnCBriggs » January 31st, 2007 1:22 pm

What a sweet guy Yanagisawa is. I am sure this is the way to win over the hearts of Japanese women. He should try this line out in a bar and see how it works.
Come over here you cute little birth-giving machine.
Score.

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furyou_gaijin
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Postby furyou_gaijin » January 31st, 2007 4:42 pm

Brilliant example of how politically correct feminised English-speaking media is picking up on something that no one would have given a second thought in Japan... And doesn't the BBC article mention that he specifically said they were NOT machines?!..

Do state the actual facts but put up misleading flashy titles and then give it the right spin and watch the trained public opinion go indignant...

Tom
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Postby Tom » January 31st, 2007 4:54 pm

furyou_gaijin wrote:Brilliant example of how politically correct feminised English-speaking media is picking up on something that no one would have given a second thought in Japan... And doesn't the BBC article mention that he specifically said they were NOT machines?!..

Do state the actual facts but put up misleading flashy titles and then give it the right spin and watch the trained public opinion go indignant...

Yeah, "Although it may not be so appropriate to call them machines," right afterward totally makes up for it; these people are angry about nothing. :D
By the way, I made it to Japan

JohnCBriggs
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Postby JohnCBriggs » January 31st, 2007 6:17 pm

For me, it would make a big difference whether this was a written speech or an off-the-cuff comment. If it was a written speech, I think the guy deserves the abuse.

It reminds me of a short story. I have a male friend that grew up on a dairy farm. His father, brothers, uncles, were all dairy farmers. So my friend knows a lot about pregnancy and milk production in cows.
My friend moved to the Boston area and married a city girl. When they had their first baby, the wife started breast feeding. Naturally my friend saw the parallels between his dairy farm experience and his wife breast feeding, so he was pointing out the similarities to his wife. His wife was very upset at being compared to a cow in any way, shape, or form.
My friend kept his mouth shut after that.

In other words, there are certain things that you just don't say.

annie
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Postby annie » February 1st, 2007 1:38 am

Tom wrote:
furyou_gaijin wrote:Brilliant example of how politically correct feminised English-speaking media is picking up on something that no one would have given a second thought in Japan... And doesn't the BBC article mention that he specifically said they were NOT machines?!..

Do state the actual facts but put up misleading flashy titles and then give it the right spin and watch the trained public opinion go indignant...

Yeah, "Although it may not be so appropriate to call them machines," right afterward totally makes up for it; these people are angry about nothing. :D


He never said that they're not machines. He merely apologized for stating it.
And as the second article says, the opposition parties are all calling for his resignation.

The government has no place saying that it's a woman's obligation to bear children. Maybe, if the government would like women to have more children, THEY should be trying a little bit harder. (national health insurance that covers pregnancy for one) Of course, it's no surprise that anyone in the governemnet would feel comfortable saying that it's a woman's duty to have children. (Look at the process of legalizing birth control... it was 1999 before low-dose birth control was legalized, and only after an uproar about the speedy process for viagra)

seanolan
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Postby seanolan » February 1st, 2007 4:16 am

annie wrote:
The government has no place saying that it's a woman's obligation to bear children.


In the interest of healthy debate, I would like to know why they do not. After all, the government is given the right to say it is a man's obligation to enter the armed forces, they are given the right to say it is a person's obligation to sell or even give them their property, they are given the right to dictate a citizen's obligations left and right...jury duty, taxes, public service, civil service draft, etc. All of these are, at least supposedly, to ensure the success of the community, whether it be a town, city, county, prefecture, parish, state, province, or country. If a threat to the well-being of a community, in this case, the country, is perceived from the low birth rate, then the government, by the powers they are given, have every right to encourage women to increase the birth rate. Especially as it is simply words at the moment, rather than drafting women to be mothers, or banning birth control, or foribdding abortions, or any legislative powers they could legally take. It is precisely a government's place to say what a person's place is, to ensure the healthy continuation of the community. That is the function of government.

This is not to suggest I agree with the solution being proposed. Living in Japan as I do, I firmly believe that a smaller population is absolutely necessary to Japan's continuation as a viable community. I see the pressures of overpopulation building while the "lubrication" of tradition, which in the past helped alleviate the stress and pressure of living in overcrowded and overpopulated conditions, is slowly wearing thin and fading away. I predict a vast spike in the crime rate, especially violent crime, in 20-30 years if the population does not decrease by a noticable amount. I think the government should be concentrating on making a diminishing population more viable. But my opinion does not change the government's function nor its powers.

Finally, I would like to comment on the statement made referring to women as baby making machines. It was a less than flattering comment, but it is true - technically, the function of a woman's body is to make a baby. So is a man's body; we just do it differently. While his phrasing was insensitive to the emotions involved, suggesting that a woman should ONLY have babies (which I am certain that, as a politician, he would never intentionally state), it should be obvious to anyone that he was simply trying to emphasize that the onus was on the women to make the choice. If you have a hundred women and one man, you can technically have a hundred babies in nine months, assuming that all parties are willing. If you have a hundred men and one woman, you will have only one baby (barring twins) in nine months. With 100 women and 100 men, if more women are willing to have children, more children will be had. If more men are willing to have children, there will still be only as many as there are willing women. Ultimately, control of the population lies in the hands, collectively, of the women of a community. Fortunately, we live in a society, mostly, that is willing to leave the control in the hands of the women. As few as one or two centuries ago, that might not have been true.

Of course, this means that as women seek more and more to find fulfilment outside of a role as a wife and/or mother (which I certainly have no objection to), the population will slowly start to decrease, since having a child is, by nature, more inconvenient to and interferes more with the life of a woman than that of a man. A man can choose to accept the inconvenience of a 9 month pregnancy and caring for a child, but nature does not force this upon him in the same fashion it does upon a woman. So naturally a woman who has chosen a career is far less likely to be willing to have children, at least initially, than one who has chosen a role solely as a mother, as once was most common in Japan. And so we're back at the problem again, and no simple solution is evident, so the government is likely to continue shooting wildly to try to fix it, and will probably often make further such gaffes in how they try to encourage solutions to the problem.

Sean

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The Government in Japan

Postby JonB » February 1st, 2007 4:43 am

couldn't care less about the reducing population and they certainly are not encouraging a turn around.

First of all why should they care? They are all loaded and a majority are probably over the retirement age so no problems for them. I should point out that that is pure conjecture on my part.

But what is fact is that the Japanese health insurance does not cover pregenacy related costs unless there is a emergency precoedure required. I know this from first hand experience. Currently what they do is give you a 300,000 "present" (I am sure it has an official name) but come April they will be stopping that.

Does 300,000 cover the cost (medical only) of giving birth in Japan? Nowhere near - I think for us it was somewhere near 5 times that - but as I have ex-pat insurance we did not go to the cheapest hospital in town as it was covered...

Looks like there are strong calls for this guy to step down - but then if this happened for every "gaff" there would be a lot of by elections in Japan :cry:

annie
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Postby annie » February 1st, 2007 5:30 am

seanolan wrote:
annie wrote:
The government has no place saying that it's a woman's obligation to bear children.


In the interest of healthy debate, I would like to know why they do not. After all, the government is given the right to say it is a man's obligation to enter the armed forces, they are given the right to say it is a person's obligation to sell or even give them their property, they are given the right to dictate a citizen's obligations left and right...jury duty, taxes, public service, civil service draft, etc. All of these are, at least supposedly, to ensure the success of the community, whether it be a town, city, county, prefecture, parish, state, province, or country.... That is the function of government.


I'd also argue that it's not the government's right to force you into the draft either. And, if you're philosophically or morally opposed to the draft, you can (after a great deal of effort) gain status as a conscientous objector in the U.S. at least.

But, there's a huge difference between paying taxes and jury duty and things like childbirth and serving in the armed forces. Jury duty and taxes aren't a huge imposition on your life. (sure, they're mendokusai, but not going to have a huge impact on the way you live your life)

seanolan wrote:Finally, I would like to comment on the statement made referring to women as baby making machines. It was a less than flattering comment, but it is true - technically, the function of a woman's body is to make a baby. So is a man's body; we just do it differently. While his phrasing was insensitive to the emotions involved, suggesting that a woman should ONLY have babies (which I am certain that, as a politician, he would never intentionally state), it should be obvious to anyone that he was simply trying to emphasize that the onus was on the women to make the choice.


I don't know, Japanese politicians aren't the brightest... and in Japan, woman as housewife is still quite common.

Yes the function of a woman's body is to make babies, but is that the function of a woman? I think that's the crux of the argument right there.

I read an article in the Daily Yomiuri (but I'm not 100% sure that it was a news piece and not an opinion) and it looked like they also quoted him saying something about how it was a woman's duty/obligation to bear children. But that could be my poor 5 minute translation of the article. I'll see if I can find it again when I get home because now it's time to clean the school.

JohnCBriggs
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Postby JohnCBriggs » February 1st, 2007 3:51 pm

Seanさん,
Reading your post, I could not help wonder if you are single.

Personally, I have been married 20 years and have two children. From my experience, it was me, not my wife, that objected to having more children. I know other couples with similar situations. However, I don't have any firm data to know whether men or women are more likely to object to having more children.

I guess my point is, assuming that in half the cases men are doing the objecting, the the politician's comments are misdirected at best. At worse, it represents a devaluation of women. One has to wonder if he would talk about men in the same tone.

I have lived for seven years in Utah surround by Mormons. They clearly have a different expectation of women than in the rest of the USA. It is common for women to have 8 children. Interestingly most of the women don't feel oppressed by it. They gladly take it on as it is expected of them from a young age. However, for the Mormon woman that chooses to have only two children, the society can treat her very negatively. I think that is very unfortunate.

I have long believed in zero-population grow. Just philosophically I didn't see the USA as benefiting from more people. Certainly there is a limit to how many people the earth can support. But I find the current conversation very interesting. Is the world better off with fewer people? Is Japan better off with fewer people? I don't really know. I sometimes think the only advantage of having more people is so that you can fight off a larger neighboring country, but perhaps there are other reasons.

By the way, the service in the Armed Forces in the USA is currently voluntary. This has worked with a combination of encouraging people to do it and significant financial incentives. Perhaps this is also the best way for government to encourage population increases/decreases.
John

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Postby Belton » February 1st, 2007 5:50 pm

This is an interesting thread.

Putting the stupid way the point was made aside.
I think the point behind the comment is that Japan can't afford to have a shrinking and ageing population.
Japan (and most of the West too) has an ageing population. To look after these people you will need people paying taxes or "merely" giving palliative care to the elderly. So the birth rate will have to rise or immigration will have to happen, or you'll have to expect a later retirement age, increasing poverty in old age and probably eventually shorter life spans.
And there seems to be a huge fear of immigrants throughout the developed world. (It's fine for them to prop up our lifestyles as long as they do it at a distance and don't want to come and join our party. ) So increasing the population at home looks like an easier option to sell.

As individuals this isn't so much of a concern. It's not what drives us to have children. Nor do people in the developed world tend to have children as a sort of old age insurance to have someone to look after you.

But it is a concern for the state. (However the breed for your country rhetoric is disturbingly like some things the Germans were doing in the 1930's ) I don't think the state can dictate to women that they have to have babies. But they do have a responsibility to try to maintain the prosperity of the people in their state. (amongst other things)

But maybe a what's in it for you approach would be better. Child benefits, state childcare, maternity benefits, paternity benefits.
Have some children which will benefit the state in the long term and we'll help make your life better while you're doing it and, if it's what you want, the means to pursue other options other than homemaker/mother in your pursuit of happiness.

I wonder what the Japanese view of single mothers is. Are some babies better than others? Are single mothers as vilified in Japan as in the UK?

osekihan
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Postby osekihan » March 7th, 2007 2:48 am

What a sexist comment! But, knowing what I must face if I do go to Japan, I know I'll struggle through.

From what I've seen and known the Japanese don't divorce as much as the Westerners so there are much less single mothers. Infact, in my 10+ visits I've never met one.

Belton
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Postby Belton » March 7th, 2007 7:30 pm

I was thinking of unwed mothers.

Has this blown over yet?
I saw photos of a demo on Valentines day demanding the guys resignation. Maybe he'll do it as a gift on White Day. w

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Postby annie » March 8th, 2007 12:57 am

I have met some unwed mothers and a fair number of people who are divorced.
(For some reason people feel comfortable telling things like this to their English teacher.)

Generally, the expectation is that if you get pregnant you'll get married before you start to show. And I assume you'd face a lot of societal and family pressure if you wanted to do otherwise. Most people I've talked to here are fairly shocked to hear that in America/Europe/NZ/etc. there isn't that same obligation anymore.

No idea if it's blown over, I haven't even turned on my tv in the last month.

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