Health Minister Says I’m A Baby-Making Machine


I think Japan needs a new health minister.

71-year old Hakuo Yanagisawa, who currently holds this post, said the following in a speech on health and welfare today:

The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed. Because the number
of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is
for them to do their best per head, although it may not be so
appropriate to call them machines.

Interesting…I was not aware that my main purpose as a Japanese woman was to give birth. He must be very disappointed in me and all the other childless females out here. Sorry, dude.


24 thoughts on “Health Minister Says I’m A Baby-Making Machine

  1. Japan’s health minister: Women are “birth-giving machines”

    Japan’s 71-year-old health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa gave a speech in which he called Japanese women “birth-giving machines” and called on them to “do their best per head.” The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed. Because the number of birt…

  2. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s make women into machines now and not address the real reasons Japanese people aren’t have kids these days.
    Of course, fixing it so they work more reasonable hours or getting dad to help out are totally out of the question, right. Why do I live here? I don’t know sometimes!
    Thanks for posting this. I read a article on this in Japanese, but I think it needs to be said in English.

  3. I guess when you’re the health minister of an entire country, you can get whatever kind of drugs you want! Because he must have been on some crazy shit to come up with this quote (and then right afterwards say it might not be a good idea to have said it).

  4. I like the cut of this man’s jib, and I would like to subscribe to his newsletter. I bet he is alot of fun at parties too. He should be applauded for telling it like it is. If a woman isn’t servicing me in bed, she better be pregnant or making me dinner, otherwise we have a problem.

  5. Why don’t Japanese women listen to this man. He is wise. You are birth machines. Look between your legs, what do you think that is for? NOW GET TO WORK!

  6. What I have never really figured out here is what the hysteria over the “low birth rate” is about. I’ve seen the charts; I understand that there are WAY more old people than young, but I fail to see how this is a problem for anyone but the dying generation. Mr. Yanagisawa should try to buy a jacket at Lalaport on a Sunday afternoon and see if he still wants the machines to ramp up production.

  7. Low birth rates are a problem because our economic model of the world relies on every country becoming more productive over time. If the population is getting smaller, then the output of the country is too, and crazy bad economic things like currency inflation, depression and so on happen lots.

  8. Oh, come of it. Are you completely incapable of abstract thought? He uses that expression quite correctly in the particular setting of the problem he is considering. He is quite correct to do it *in that context*. A woman’s purpose is not just to make children, but in the context of that problem that is all that matters, and so the analogy is quite appropriate. Go learn some mathematics or something, learn to think in rational terms, and quit the hysteria, it makes you sound like a bitching machine, “although it may not be so appropriate to call” you a machine. :p
    Now will you bear my child? 😀

  9. Crazy. If the German health minister would say something like this, we’d (hopefully) call her a damn fascist and force her to resign.

  10. Wow Lisa. I think you have the right opinion. Japanese women aren’t just machines for making babies. Neither are any women. In the U.S. we’ve fought long and hard for equality and still have a long way to go. Hopefully we can change opinions like a few of the other posters in this comments section.

  11. This is not how to deal with demography

    Demography matters, as Ed constantly points out. It matters so much they’re even talking about it up at Davos, where they’ve invited “the world’s most important bloggers” into the bargain. So, from the AFOE (Europe’s No.1, according to E-Sharp magazine…

  12. Remember that Japan is in a steep decline in Childbirths. But if Women are birthing machines, Men are sperm dispensers. All humans are biological machines, but we are not limited by that term or to a single function of our biology.

  13. Is it really a problem, the decline births? Might it not result in an improved quality of life for all Japanese as they better preserve their nature resources? Aren’t high birthrate countries really just flushing it all down the crap hole?
    Japanese women are just smarter and better educated than the rest.
    Yanagisawa needs to do some homework. Remedial math would be good. Reading some Garrett Hardin wouldn’t hurt either.

  14. Arguing over the term he used is ridiculous and shortsighted. He used the term in a particular context and that has to be taken into account. It seems like the people that are offended by his statement are missing its point.
    And I do not see where he said that the “main purpose as a Japanese woman was to give birth.” Putting words into someone’s mouth and then attacking those words is always problematic.
    Without putting much thought into it, I’d say he simply meant that the burden of childbirth is solely on women (for physical reasons). As an earlier poster pointed out, this way of thinking ignores many factors that are related to making the decision to have a child, so there are problems with his statement. Although later there is another quote that seems to show that he understands that the problem is a community one rather than a problem for each individual woman aged 15-50.

  15. Women “baby-making machines” according to Japan’s health minister

    Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth Direct from the mouth of Japan’s health minister, 71-year old Hakuo

  16. To Eric and the others guys:
    OF COURSE you’re not offended
    – you are male. Quit telling us women how we should react.
    Calling women baby-making machines is denying our humanity.

  17. Johanna, OF COURSE you are offended. You are a trying to pervert nature by redefining your role outside of its original scope. Quit telling us men how we should act. Calling women baby-making machines is merely accepting reality. Now get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich – quick!

  18. I have to agree with most of what Omwo said.
    The choice of words was poor, but what he said was RIGHT. There are only a limited number of people capable of bearing children. That is a fact.
    Nowhere does he say that it is the ONLY thing they should do, or that bearing children is the only thing they are capable of.
    I think that he made an unfortunate choice in putting it into words, but he made a clear point. Instead of focusing on other things, why not focus on making the situation one such as that the women of childbearing age would be more inclined to make children? Of course, that wonderful observation of his has been washed down the drain due to a wording blunder.
    That`s what I read it as – Let`s work on making things better so that those capable of having children will have more.
    Which is what really needs to be done, and there is NO REASON to believe that this guy meant anything other than that. (read the rest of what he said)
    Oh, and by the way, I AM a woman and I live in Japan. I find it pretty sad that anyone with an opinion that could in fact lead to improvement (ie. making the situation more conductive to baby-making) has to be beaten down in scandal. This guy seems to be one of the only ones who is at least close to being on the right path. I mean, think about the “White Collar Exemption”… Think THAT would have increased the birth rate?

  19. How can a 71 year old minister, who probably spent decades in politics, come up with such a formulation? Someone send him a telegram that women have voting rights now and he needs to cover up his misogynistic drivel.

  20. I agree that what the minister said was atrociously unsensitive. It doesn’t surprise me though, when I lived in Japan I went to a supposedly English speaking doctor who said to me at the end of the consultation.
    “You getting too old why you have no aka chan. You must have aka chan.”
    Wow, what an enlightened attitude.
    Anyway, I love your blog and I love Japan mostly except for when things like this happen.

  21. Sure Enough, He Said “Women Are Birthing Machines”

    The first wire report over the weekend of Japanese Health Minister, 71-year old Hakuo Yanagisawa, calling

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