The leading choice for contraception in Japan is condoms, the second most popular (almost 20%) being pulling out, followed by the rythm method. The pill languishes in last place with an audience of just over 2% of the female population (vs. 18% in the US, 25% in the UK and 52% in Germany, for example).

Not surprisingly, this leads to a fairly large number of abortions. 28% of the 300,000 or so women who underwent abortions last year claimed not being married as the primary reason.

Reportedly a large number of Japanese women don't consider contraception to be their responsibility, and are put-off by the price and stories of horrible side-effects. In fact, when the pill was introduced a survey showed that 70% of women would never consider trying it.

However, it's strange that a country so lax with protecting themselves during sex isn't flooded with children. Japan's aging population is a constant worry, and no amount of sex-standing-up contraception seems to be helping. Although the number of abortions sounds high, it's still less than half of those of the US or UK.

It's also true that an increased use of the pill is usually coupled with an increase in life-threatening STDs like HIV.

Anyway, this is starting to get too complex for AccessJ! Here are the rules on contraception in Japan:

  • The Pill
    There are strict rules on bringing the pill into the country. It must be prescribed to you, and you're only allowed two months' supply. My girlfriend tried to bring more than that and had her parcel got stopped at customs waiting for her permission to destroy the contents. They wouldn't even send it back to England.
    You can get prescribed it here by an obstetrician and it costs about 3000yen per month, and you have to go back every three months for a check-up (not free).
    I recently found a great article about the types of Pill available in Japan.
  • Depo-provera is not permitted.
    You can't bring it with you, and no-one will import it or inject you with it even with a prescription. However, there are similar shots available. Ask a gynecologist.
  • Contraception patches
    There are several types of estrogen-only patches available (on insurance).
  • Gels
    Several types containing both progestogen and estrogen.
  • Condoms
    Japanese condoms are okay, but (it's not a joke) they will not always fit Western men comfortably. They may also come off more easily than what you're used to. There are several shops in the big cities that sell all sizes and shapes. Look for The Condom Store, Condomania or places like that.
  • The morning-after pill
    Is very expensive (10,000yen and up) and not covered by health insurance, though I have heard of it going for only 3,000yen in Okinawa. It's referred to as the "aafutaa piru" and you need to see a gynecologist to get one. International clinics will also prescribe it to you if necessary.


Any other methods or comments? Add them to the comments below.

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