Margaret Sanger, "Moana Hotel Statement," 28 Apr 1954.

Source: " Birth Control Leader Finds Japan Receptive, Honolulu Advertiser, Apr. 29, 1954, p. A9."

Sanger gave this press conference en route back to the United States from Japan.


Birth Control Leader Finds Japan Receptive

The woman who coined the phrase "birth control" broke a centuries old precedent in Japan a few days ago.

She is Mrs. Margaret Sanger Slee, president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Mrs. Slee arrived in Honolulu by Japan Air Lines late Tuesday.

On April 15, she stood in the old House of Peers, now the Japanese House of Councillors, to discuss their over population problem. The first foreign woman to appear before the Diet, Mrs. Sanger said she was enthusiastically received.

"Even the disturbance and criticism caused by the H-bomb explosion did not interfere with my work," Mrs. Slee said at the Moana Hotel yesterday. "But you can feel the attitude of the Japanese in the press and the personal questions put to me.

"In the House of Councillors, the Japanese wanted to know why Americans did not protest to their government the H-bomb experiments. They countered with "the British are protesting to their parliament, why don't you?"

Mrs. Slee made the air journey to Japan accompanied by her secretary-interpreter, Mrs. Chieko Hata of New York. The purpose, to consult with leaders of the Planned Parenthood movement to see if Japan is strong enough nationally for Mrs. Slee, as president, to accept the invitation for the October, 1955, international meeting.

What they lack in organization, the Japanese make up in sympathy and enthusiasm. Mrs. Slee has approved the international conference in Japan.

As she stood in the House of Councillors, Mrs. Slee said the questions flew thick and fast. The flash bulbs popped in the hands of at least 20 photographers. They represented English as well as Japanese newspapers.

"It was like Hollywood," the dynamic little birth control banner carrier said.

For two and one half hours the questions came, not only from one man, but from the women. One, also a midwife, said she spoke for 30,000 other Japanese midwives. She sought information on setting up clinics, how they were financed, was knowledge available to everyone?

A question was posed by one man.

"Is religion a barrier in this movement?" he queried.

Mrs. Slee said she gave a lengthy answer to this one. She told them that "God gave us intelligence and it is the responsibility of every adult man and woman to use this intelligence. Our first responsibility is when man creates a child and brings it into the world."

"They seemed pleased with this answer," Mrs. Slee said.

Another councillor said he considered population Japan's most pertinent problem and asked "advice from an expert."

"I told them the whole movement has moved into the medical, public health, welfare, demography, and laboratory field. There is no need for Japan to have 100 million people in 10 years as prophesied. The answer lies in individual instruction as in the three villages used for demonstration purposes."

Mrs. Slee said that 1,300,000 babies were born in Japan last year, but at least 1,500,000 women submitted to abortions. A eugenic law passed in Japan during the occupation permits abortion as well as the use of contraceptives. Mrs. Slee hopes that education will lessen the need for such clinics, to improve the humane aspect as well as material health.

The population expert attended a meeting of 800 Japanese women in Tokyo's vast Hibiya hall. She heard them discuss their lot under their new status.

"They are proud of the advances gained since 1947 when centuries of tradition were swept aside and Japanese women were placed, at least legally, on the same footing with their men. They have made great strides, particularly in education, in the spread of women's suffrage. Now we hope to have their help in our work in population control." Mrs. Slee said.

She remains here until May 6, when she flies to San Francisco to meet with California groups who have organized under Planned Parenthood.


Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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