By FR. PATRICK O'CONNOR
N.C.W. correspondent in China and -Japan .since the war, now on leave in Ireland
JAPAN has been stampeded into Government-sponsored birth control. The reasons given to justify this policy resemble the arguments in support of Japan's war venture. They are the short-sighted reasons of expediency.
In using the machinery of their Government to promote artificial birth control, Japanese politicians act in accord with the urgings of certain Occupation officials who have lectured them publicly and privately on the subject. The most highly publicised of these advocates is Dr. Warren S. Thompson, head of the Sdripps Foundation for Population Research, Miami University, Ohio.
He spent from January to March, 1949, in Japan as technical adviser to the Natural Resources Section of the Occupation. In Tokyo and later in the U.S., he named birth control as the only answer to Japan's self-support problem.
Two other paid advisers echoed Dr. Thompson. Some less vocal, but not less active, military and civilian members of the Occupation planned and worked with these spokesmen.
On June 6. 1949, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Japan, disavowed the Occupation advisers' birth control statements, which he described as expressions of individual opinion. Last January he quashed a new attempt by the Natural Resources Section to propagandise for birth control.
A large section of Japanese officialdom, however. had already surrendered to the birth control advocates. who carried the immense prestige of the Occupation.
In April, 1949, the Ministry of Welfare authorised the public sale of contraceptives. In the same month Prime Minister, Shigeru Yoshida, announced that he favoured a birth control policy. On May 22, 1949, the Diet or Parliament re-enacted the murderous Eugenics Protection Law with new clauses establishing offices throughout Japan to popularise birth control. Official atid commercial propaganda for contraception flooded the country.
WITH its materialistic approach, its over-simplifica tion, its promise of easy relief from difficulties and its air of technology, birth control propaganda appeals to a mentality often found in a certain class of Japanese politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and intellectuals.
Twenty years ago the militarists were making use of the same mentality.
The specific argument for Government-sponsored birth control in Japan usually follows the pattern of Dr. Thompson's statements made in Tokyo and later in the U.S. last year.
A recent Times report on the Japanese population question incorporated this pattern, with other data. The article, written by the lokyo correspondent of The Times and published on March 8, was headed: "Japanese Population Rise -Danger of Uncontrolled Expansion."
Siding with Dr. Thompson, the correspondent concluded; The time has now come, it would seem, for the Government to decide whether to undertake, by appropriate methods of birth control, a conscious and deliberate attempt to stabilise the population or face fresh disasters.'
The situation reported by The Times correspondent is one of a mounting population, and of domestic natural resources inadequate for its needs. He agreed with Dr. Thompson that emigration "on the scale required" would be economically impossible. even if no "political barriers" existed. If enough ships were found and enough land could he cleared and houses built for 1.500.000 emigrants a year. "that would take care only of the annual increase and would not reduce the number of people now crowded on these islands."
Speaking of a solution by increased industrialisation. The Time.s article said: "It is doubtful whether the country can obtain enough foreign currency to purchase abroad all the food and raw materials she needs." Domestic resources can be improved but this is "likely to take decades to achieve."
Dr. Thompson last year spoke in similar vein: ".1 may be overtly pessimistic, but I don't feel this can solve the problem" (statement made to Intdnational News Service April 19. 1949).
NO SOLUTION IT is noteworthy that no drawbacks or doubtful aspects of the birth control policy were men
tioned by either The Times writer or by Dr. 1 hompson, as reported by I.N.S.
Yet many who may not agree with Catholic principles regarding contraception itself, recognise the damsel of grave social evils in a Statesponsored drive for birth control. And, as we shall see later, birth control would take decades to " stabilise the population " of Japan, On analysis, the Japan situation raises many questions for which a nation-wide programme of birth control would be merely an evasive answer, not a solution.
In 1949 the population of Japan had indeed risen to 82,000,000, an increase of some nine and a half million over 1945.
It should be remembered. however, that 6.250.000 Japanese were repatriated to their home islands during that period.
Thanks mainly to the Public Health and Welfare Section of the Occupation, Japan's death rate has been reduced and the life expectancy lengthened. The natural resources of Japan do not now supply the population with what it needs. (Statistics are from Japanese sources and are accepted by Occupation authorities.) Do these facts leave the Japanese with only two choices: either (1) national capitulation to a practice that millions of Christians and many non-Christians regard as immoral. or, (2) helpless acceptance of national disaster?
Secondly. if Japan were to choose the moral disaster, would she thereby be insured against the material disaster she is being warned about?
SELF-SUPPORT T HE answers to these questions are of vital concern to many countries.
Japan is a test case in several ways-a test of international morality and democratic statesmanship, a test of native character, a test of the power of the birth-control bloc.
In an article of this length one can only indicate some of the answers.
There is nothing abnormal or disastrous in the fact that a country's natural resources are inadequate for all the needs of its population. Home-grow products have never sufficed for Britain's needs. In 1949 Britain was reportedly raising only 54 per cent. of the food she consumed. Japan was then raising 85 per cent. of what her people ate. WesternGermany produces much less of its own food than does Japan.
It is, however, abnormal and unjustifiable if a country is hindered from trading to obtain supplies from abroad.
Japan. the most highly industrialised country in the Far East, is capable of supporting herself with the aid of legitimate foreign trade. 'The Asiatic mainland and the islands of South-East Asia arc naturally the major market for her manufactured goods. In return, East Asian countries can afford to supply Japan-and other deficit areas. such as famine districts in China-with food and raw materials.
They can do it now, although these territories are not producing to the capacity that would result from improved methods. A few months ago, for instance. Japan arranged to supply Thailand (Siam) with Japanese-made railway engines and wagons in return for 300.00(1 tons of Thailand's abundant rice crop, Burma's Minister of Agriculture announced last February that 800.000 tons of Burmese rice would be available for export this year out of a total harvest-in spite of the disturbed internal situation of 3,000.000 tons.
"Granted normal conditions in East Asia, Japan could import all the food she wants and pay for it with her industries," Mr. Michael Lee. chief of the Far East branch of Ithe U.S. Department of Commerce, told me in Tokyo.
FUR.' HERMORE, a vast surplus agricultural products
bought by the U.S. Government from farmers-lies in sealed barns and warehouses in the United States.
Last December these stocks included: 172.000,000 bushels of wheat; 83.000.000 bushels cif corn (and 300.000,000 bushels more were expected for storage in May. 1950): 230,000,000 lbs. of dried milk: 3.750.000 bales of cotton.
Obviously. food-short countries like Japan could use and pay for these supplies, if they could sell their own products for dollars.
NO EXCUSE No matter how complex inter national currency relations may be. food shortage in itself cannot be alleged as an excuse for birth con,trol while such a surplus remains and annually increases. The .Potsdam Declaration, which the Allies offered and the Japanese accepted as the basis of surrender. promised the following to Japan: Permission "to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy"; access to raw materials; eventual participation in world trade.
If these conditions were fulfilled there would be no prospect of food shortage for Japan's population.
True, conditions in East Asia are not normal now. Commercial intercourse between Far Eastern countries is hindered (rarely is it halted).
Worse still, nearly five years after the surrender, there is no peace treaty. Ordinary channels of world commerce remain closed to Japan.
Still. the volume of her visible and invisible exports has risen steadily since 1947. bringing her nearer to her goal of self-support. This has been accomplished through special trade agreements arranged by the foreign trade office of the Economic and Scientific Section of the Occupation.
Japanese exports mean competition. As long as dumping and other unfair trade practices are avoided, it is fair competition. The stronger nations cannot expect to have peace and long-term prosperity unless they allow a good measure of free trade to weaker nations.
,,,,, iiiiiiiiiiiiiii iiiiiii moi11,11111“;
EMIGRATION is hardly to be ruled out just because it now seems impossible to move a total
of 1,500,000 Japanese a year to undeveloped territories. In any event, relief would not be sought in emigration alone, or in increased industrialisation or improved technology alone.
How scarce is the shipping ? Ships were found to repatriate more than 6,000,000 Japanese since the war's end-most of them during the first three years.
In case of necessity, which should he broken-political barriers against emigration or the natural moral law ?
At the close of the war Dr. 1 hompson wrote vigorously in favour of Japanese emigration. (He had voiced a similar plea before the war.) In his book. Population and Peace in the Pacific, finished in October, 1945, published by the University of Chicago in 1946, he advocated emigration as well as birth control
for Japan. That was three years before he came to Tokyo as an official of the Natural Resources Section of the Occupation. These passages from his book are noteworthy : Population pressure " is not an absolute quantity which can be
(Continued on page 5)