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Japan – Maternity and Giving Birth

Japan is a country known for its advanced healthcare system and high-quality medical services. It offers a range of options for expectant mothers, including both hospital and home births. In this article, we will explore the most common options for giving birth in Japan, the steps to register a birth in Japan, and the attitudes and legislation surrounding abortion in the country.

Giving Birth in Japan

In Japan, the vast majority of births occur in hospitals. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, in 2019, 98.7% of births took place in hospitals, while 0.4% occurred at home and 0.2% were in other settings. The high percentage of hospital births is due to the Japanese healthcare system, which provides comprehensive coverage for pregnancy and childbirth.

Hospitals in Japan offer various birth options, including natural birth, pain relief methods, and caesarean section. There are also several types of hospitals, including private hospitals, public hospitals, and university hospitals. Private hospitals offer more luxurious amenities, such as private rooms, while university hospitals often have specialized medical staff and equipment.

Home births in Japan are legal, but they are not as common as hospital births. To give birth at home, expectant mothers must hire a licensed midwife who is registered with the government. The midwife will provide prenatal care, attend the birth, and offer postpartum care. Home births are usually preferred by women who wish to have a more natural birth experience and avoid medical interventions.

Registering a Birth in Japan

After giving birth in Japan, it is necessary to register the birth at the local city hall or municipal office within 14 days. Here are the steps to register a birth in Japan:

  1. Obtain a Birth Certificate: The hospital or midwife will issue a birth certificate at the time of birth. If giving birth at home, the midwife will provide the birth certificate.

  2. Gather Required Documents: The following documents are required for birth registration:

  • The birth certificate
  • The mother’s health insurance card
  • The father’s health insurance card (if applicable)
  • The parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • The parents’ residence cards or passports
  • The foreign registration card (if applicable)
  1. Submit the Documents: Go to the local city hall or municipal office and submit the required documents. It is recommended to make an appointment in advance to avoid long wait times.

  2. Receive the Family Registry: After submitting the documents, the city hall will issue a family registry (koseki). This document records the birth and the family relationships.

Attitudes and Legislation Surrounding Abortion in Japan

Abortion in Japan is legal under certain conditions. The Maternal Health Protection Law of 1948 allows abortion within the first 22 weeks of pregnancy if the woman’s physical or mental health is at risk, if the pregnancy is a result of rape, or if there is a high risk of genetic abnormalities. After 22 weeks, abortion is only allowed to save the woman’s life or prevent serious harm to her health.

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Despite the legality of abortion, there is still a stigma surrounding the procedure in Japan. Many women face discrimination and judgment for seeking an abortion, and there is limited access to safe and affordable abortion services in certain areas. In recent years, there has been a push for greater access to abortion and reproductive health services in Japan.

In Japan, hospital births are the most common option, but home births are also available for those who prefer a more natural birth experience. After giving birth, it is necessary to register the birth at the local city hall or municipal office within 14 days. Abortion is legal in Japan under certain conditions, but there is still a stigma surrounding the procedure, Overall, Japan is known for its high-quality healthcare system, which is also reflected in the services and options available for childbirth. However, attitudes towards childbirth and pregnancy are still influenced by cultural and societal norms.