A pro-life leader in Japan just emailed me, to say that today is the 69th anniversary of Japan’s Eugenic Protection Act.
Japanese eugenics activists had been lobbying for abortion for years. They were led by Abe Isoo, who studied Marxism while in an American seminary. He moved back to Japan to pastor a Unitarian church. But he later turned towards politics, and became the “father of Japanese Socialism”. Without his network of Socialist activists, there would not have been popular support for the legalisation of abortion.
After World War II, Americans led most segments of the Allied occupying force that ruled Japan from 1945 to 1952. The Surgeon General was an American progressive, and pushed for a change in the abortion law.
Many doctors and eugenicists sincerely believed that abortion would help poor people in Japanese society. But they also believed it was urgent to abort pregnancies caused by African American soldiers. This was a viscerally felt factor in the law’s passage. And the racist motivations of Japanese and American leaders left a terrible wound in Japan’s history.
On July 13, 1948, Japan became the first country in Asia to make abortion legal (for reasons other than to save the life of the mother). In May 1949, the law was amended, and in effect abolished all abortion restrictions in Japan.
By 1953, Japan’s population was 86,000,000, and there were over 1,000,000 abortions every year. That means that at least 1 out of 10 women of child-bearing age were having an abortion every year. This means that many women–perhaps a majority–had multiple abortions during their lifetime.
Japan can never recover from such a deep wound, after so much blood was shed. Let’s pray that God will somehow redeem this great historical evil.