Margaret Sanger, "Village Experiments and the Pill in Japan," 19 Apr 1954.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S72:899."

Sanger gave this speech during her 1954 trip to Japan; the specific event has not been identified.

Tokyo, Japan

It is good to be in Japan again even though the cherry blossoms did not wait for my arrival. It has been wet and cloudy some days, but when the sun does come out, the air is fresh and clean. All nature seems to smile as children do after a bath.

The purpose of my visit at this time is to learn the results of the three village experiments where the Institute of Public Health has sent nurses and midwives to the homes to teach the parents methods of Birth Control. The results while not conclusive are encouraging. The Health and Welfare Departments should be encouraged to expand their guidance to many more villages and help mothers to avoid the necessity of abortion.

The most encouraging impression I have had is the overwhelming desire on the part of women, men, newspaper men, and nurses and doctors to learn and obtain the so-called Birth Control pill or medicine. So much has been talked about as a future possibility. My telephone rings, callers come, people at meetings, all plead to be given the “pill”. It is my greatest regret that this so-called “pill” is not ready for general distribution yet. There are several tests being made in the United States of America. There will, I trust, be a selected group of medical officers and scientists in Japan to join with the American scientists to test out this special ingredient before it is given a wide national distribution.

Other demand comes from many countries and it will not be too many months before there will be the possibility of this cheap, simple, safe contraceptive. This demanding interest on the part of the Japanese people is a healthy attitude toward the population problem. Japan needs to cut down the birth rate to equal the death rate : to hold a stationary population for years, give the living children a chance. With 87 million people crowded into such a small island, there is no need of increasing this number for years to come. The people here especially the children look healthy and well-fed. People do not look over-fed, but they look vital, active, energetic. and always the charming courtesies and beautiful manners of all people so typical of Japanese culture which exists no where else on this earth.

I am happy to have so many friends in this country and it will be a great honor for all of us from Europe and America to assemble here in Tokyo for our International Planned Parenthood Conference in October-November of 1955.

So it is Hail and Farewell, Farewell and Hail until that time.

Mrs. Margaret Sanger
International Planned Parenthood Federation
April 19, 1954
Tokyo, Japan

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