The health minister in Japan has really stirred up a ruckus among the women of the country when he referred to them as “birth-giving machines.” Apparently, the health minister was addressing a potentially serious problem in Japan – a decrease in the population.
Contrary to other countries throughout the world, Japan is actually experiencing a decline in population. While other countries are trying to slow down the rate of population growth, Japan is worried about its population drop. This is a major concern for the country because of the possibility of labor shortages in the future as well as the difficulties the country will have with paying pensions and the health bills of the elderly.
In a speech to the country addressing this drop in population, which is primarily because of a decline in births, the health minister states that “The number of birth-giving machines [and] devices is fixed, so all we can ask is that they do their best per head.”
As can be imagined, referring to women as baby making machines did not go over too well with the women of the country. Similarly, the implied request for women to have more babies was not well-received in a country where it is still expected for women to quit their jobs after having a baby. Because of this societal expectation, more Japanese women are deciding not to have children or to only have one child.
The health minister did apologize for the remarks he made, but only because he recognized that his word choices were “too uncivil.” Apparently, he didn’t have a problem with the underlying message of what he had to say.
The leader of the Japanese Democratic Party summed it up nicely when he said, “It was extremely rude to women. Having children or not having children is naturally a matter that women and households are free [to decide themselves