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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Melanie Stiehr

Japanese Studies
(PhD Students, April 1, 2009 - February 28, 2010)

  • Sexual education and contraception in Japan
  • The process of approval and the perception of the birth control pill in Japan
  • Attitudes of Japanese women towards their bodies

Dissertation Project: (working title)

“The birth control pill in Japan – A story without success – An analysis of the current situation-“

After an almost forty year long approval process, the low-dose birth control pill (teiyōryō piru) was finally approved in June 1999 in Japan for contraceptive use (hinin´yaku). Japanese and foreign pharmaceutical companies, who had eagerly anticipated the pill approval for a long time, immediately launched numerous birth control pills in the Japanese pharmaceutical market with the great expectation to develop a profitable market in that area. However, ten years after the approval of the birth control pill the sales volume of oral contraception (keikō hinin´yaku) in Japan is, when compared to international sales volumes, still marginal. In this context, this dissertation project investigates the factors and reasons for the low acceptance of the birth control pill among Japanese women.

This research is based on a multi-method-approach which combines a collection of qualitative and quantitative data and investigates different stakeholders.

On the one hand, this is done by an analysis of advertisements for various birth control pills in gynaecological professional journals, representing the position of the pharmaceutical companies and their sales strategies. On the other hand, an analysis of publications regarding this matter in professional journals and books published by medical specialists (here: gynaecologists) as well as interviews with those medical specialists shall be conducted. Medical specialists are – due to the fact of compulsory prescription – the connecting link between the pharmaceutical companies and the end-users of oral contraceptives. Furthermore, a qualitative and quantitative analysis of articles concerning this topic published in (four) different high-circulating Japanese women’s magazines shall be undertaken. In addition, opinions of birth control pill users and non-users shall be conducted by holding round table talks and interviews.