Women and Health in Japan: The Rise and Obstacles of Gender and Sex-Specific Medicine

Women and Health in Japan: The Rise and Obstacles of Gender and Sex-Specific Medicine

Hiroko Hara
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3982-9.ch016
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In this article, the author first overviews the state of affairs concerning reproductive health/rights in Japan. The spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) in Japan are then examined, followed by a discussion on promotion of gender and sex-specific medicine. Finally, the author examines causes of death in Japan and their implications from the perspectives of gender equality.
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2. Reproductive Health And Sexual Health/Rights

In Japan, the maternal mortality rates have dropped over the course of time, and the technological level of obstetricians/gynecologists and midwives is high. Yet, nationwide the number of obstetricians/gynecologists shows a tendency to fall. Among the causes are: long work hours demanded of obstetricians/gynecologists and greater financial burden incurred by low wages and an increase in medical suits (insufficient lawsuit insurance) (Ministry of Health, 2007, p. 45). Similarly has the number of maternity clinics run by private midwives gone into decline (Welfare and Medical Service Agency, 2007, p. 6). For this reason, it is not easy for pregnant women to make an appointment for their delivery. In some cases, they change their residence to other municipalities in order to reserve a bed for their delivery. No significant countermeasures have been taken and in recent years, there have been medical accidents in child delivery shaking the nation. When pregnant women exhibited a symptom of a brain hemorrhage or other serious symptoms, they were sent to several other large hospitals by ambulance but each time they were refused to be accepted for reasons ranging from occupied beds to absence of doctors and doctors in operation. At the final hospitals that did accept them, babies were delivered by Cesarean section, which either cost the life of the pregnant women or put them in a coma in a critical condition. There are exceptions, though quite small in number; where an appropriate network has been built among public hospitals, university hospitals, medical practitioners, and fire departments in charge of ambulances in order to minimize the occurrence of such accidents.

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