Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945, marking the end of World War II (WWII), immediately brought about changes in the political frameworks that upheld the population discourse and studies until then – a notable one was the Japanese territory’s significantly reduced landmass. Japan had lost Taiwan, Korea, and other recently acquired colonial possessions. Manchukuo, once a promised land for Japan’s “surplus people,” was dissolved. Karafuto and the islands north of Hokkaido turned into a site of contention in the post-WWII diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
The idea of overpopulation as a source of socioeconomic problems returned with these changes. Commentators stressed that Japan, a nation already poor in resources and now with a much smaller territory, was simply unable to sustain its growing population. Even worse for Japanese policymakers, the old option of sending people overseas to solve the problem of the expanding population was now less viable because overseas migration was tainted by its association with fascism and military aggression.Footnote 1 This situation created favorable ground for birth control promoters, and the spread of birth control brought about a birth control survey boom.
The survey fervor emerged in Japan in the late 1940s and lasted for about a decade. This boom was in part supported by media organizations such as Mainichi Newspaper, which set up an in-house research group specializing in population issues and organized its own birth control survey. The government also played a pivotal role in this boom. In response to policy debates about the possible implementation of birth control as population management, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) ordered the Institute of Population Problems (IPP) to conduct birth control surveys. In the early 1950s, these surveys provided material for policy debate, leading to a cabinet decision to make birth control a national policy in 1951 and the official announcement in 1954 that made birth control a population control measure. From the mid-1950s onward, the surveys further supported state-endorsed family planning initiatives. The official birth control survey continued until the late 1950s, when birth rates plummeted and overpopulation was no longer a policy item.
This chapter considers birth control surveys as a form of social survey and contextualizes the official involvement in the survey boom in terms of the interplay between science and the governing of Japan’s population that occurred in the post-WWII political environment. The social survey, according to historian of modern China Tong Lam, was a “mode of knowledge production” directly linked to “China’s transformation from a dynastic empire to a modern nation-state.”Footnote 2 In the case of Japan, the official birth control survey did not thrive when Japan was transformed into a modern state but after WWII, when policymakers discussed population control via birth control as a critical condition for the “reconstruction” (fukkō) of the war-torn nation, a national slogan that emerged amid the occupation and constantly shifting regional geopolitics.Footnote 3 In this context, a birth control survey clarifying the demographic influence of people’s sexual and reproductive behaviors was inherently a “political practice.”Footnote 4 By providing knowledge that helped the government to better discern and manage the newly repackaged post-WWII “Japanese population,” the survey helped facilitated Japan’s political reconstruction more efficiently.
Partly due to the important role assigned to birth control, the knowledge produced by the official survey and research resonated with the political undertones of the reconstruction effort. First, going along with the official reconstruction efforts that involved securing the boundaries of the Japanese population based on the notion of racial homogeneity, the official birth control surveys did not look at race, despite the pervasiveness of race in Japanese population discourse of the time.Footnote 5 Second, in harmony with the domestic- and economic-centric developmentalist framework that shaped the government’s engagement with reconstruction, the survey research classified demographic data by region and socioeconomic status, two categories experts adopted when assessing a country’s modernization and development achievements, or, in the case of post-WWII Japan, in postwar reconstruction.Footnote 6 In other words, the central premises buttressing post-WWII Japan’s reconstruction exercise – the notion of Japan’s ethnically homogenous population and the developmentalist logic upholding an introspective perspective on the socioeconomic and regional hierarchy within Japan – provided the basic framework for the birth control survey research. In turn, the knowledge about the population produced by the research informed the government’s attempt to regulate fertility for the sake of reconstruction.
The coproduction of birth control survey research and the government’s engagement with reconstruction did not occur only on the epistemological level; it also tangibly shaped science surrounding the research and governing of Japan’s population associated with the reconstruction. To illustrate this, I look at Shinozaki Nobuo (1914–98), a colleague of Tachi who spearheaded the IPP’s birth control survey research. Shinozaki was not just a rank-and-file technical bureaucrat. He would have been a younger member of the elite scientific circle of what Miriam Kingsberg Kadia termed “men of one age,” the generation of human scientists who were at the prime of their careers during Japan’s transwar period (1930s–60s).Footnote 7 In the 1950s, when he headed the birth control research, Shinozaki headed the establishment of a professional organization for population science, while also actively participating in the family planning initiative that unfolded in the half-government, half-private New Life Movement. Because of his multiple and often blurred identities as technical bureaucrat, population expert, and birth control campaigner, Shinozaki was able to effectively thread together the sites of science making and population management for post-WWII reconstruction. Specifically, Shinozaki used his birth control campaign to collect data for his policy-relevant survey research, and the research he conducted justified birth control policy as a population control measure that was tied to the reconstruction. Parallel to this, Shinozaki’s popular campaign and research acted as basis for his involvement in the creation of a specific community of population experts united by their interests in the relationship between reproductive behaviors and demographic trends, and the expert community, once formalized, advised the government on population matters. These developments, brought together by technical bureaucrats like Shinozaki, characterized additional ways population science resonated with the governing of the population in Japan in the specific context of post-WWII reconstruction.
Shinozaki’s stories are particularly insightful because they confirm how, even after the fascist regime crumbled with the defeat of the war, technical bureaucrats continued to exert influence over the interplay between science making and the state’s effort to govern the population. Shinozaki’s case is also illuminating because it shows how technical bureaucrats’ personal motivations supported post-WWII reconstruction as a national project. Specifically, it illustrates how Shinozaki’s enthusiasm for policy-relevant birth control work was fueled by both his sense of duty as bureaucrat and his own aspirations to establish himself in the government office and population scientists’ community. By addressing these personal factors that shaped the government’s attempt to control the population size for the purpose of postwar reconstruction, this chapter presents a nuanced history of state population governance.
Discourse of Overpopulation and Birth Control Policy during and after the Occupation
For the Japanese government, the August 1945 surrender signified the coming six and a half years of occupation by the victor nations initially headed by Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the US Army Forces in the Far East and the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers (SCAP).Footnote 8 For the population experts and technical bureaucrats, it meant a balancing act between their Japanese colleagues and relevant personnel at the occupation’s Supreme Commander for Allied Powers General Headquarters (SCAP-GHQ) over the problem of “overpopulation.”
Population growth was not a new problem (see Chapter 3). However, the post-WWII discourse of “overpopulation” emerged out of the specific situation postsurrender. This time, commentators stressed that population growth – the addition of eight million people to the total population in the first years after the war – was caused by rising birth rates triggered by the repatriation of soldiers and an influx of repatriates from their former colonies.Footnote 9
While agreeing with the “overpopulation” argument in principle, policy advisors summoned by the government to deliberate on post-WWII population matters disagreed on what exactly constituted the problem of overpopulation, in ways that reflected their own disciplinary backgrounds. Those with an inclination toward Malthusianism focused on already evident food shortages and future land erosion.Footnote 10 Economists argued that “overpopulation” would cause mass unemployment and distort the distribution of populations to the various industrial sectors, thereby impeding state efforts to reindustrialize.Footnote 11 Medical experts tended to claim overpopulation was in part caused by effective “death control”: the decline in mortality rates due to improved public health.Footnote 12 Those with eugenic tendencies raised concerns that overpopulation, if unchecked, would trigger “reverse selection” (see Chapter 3).Footnote 13 Despite these diverse interpretations, one issue gained unanimous support: “overpopulation” would impede state efforts to “reconstruct” their war-obliterated nation.
Beyond government circles, birth control activists were fervently discussing population dynamics. Like in the prewar period, neo-Malthusians claimed overpopulation would exacerbate poverty, while socialists argued it would benefit exploitative capitalists by generating surplus labor.Footnote 14 From among these figures, Katō (Ishimoto) Shizue, a leading figure in popular birth control activism since the 1920s (see Chapter 3), articulated overpopulation in terms of the challenges Japanese women confronted in their everyday lives.Footnote 15 For activists struggling to rebuild their movement after government suppression, the narrative of overpopulation provided an impetus to relate their raison d’être to post-WWII reconstruction.
Under the occupation, “overpopulation” also rapidly became a priority within the SCAP-GHQ.Footnote 16 Officials within SCAP-GHQ were concerned about a potential negative impact on the occupation’s most important mission: transforming Japan into an independent sovereign state.Footnote 17 Due to food shortages, Japan had relied on US food aid since the occupation’s onset,Footnote 18 and more mouths to feed would hinder progress toward national independence.Footnote 19 The SCAP-GHQ personnel were also concerned that overpopulation would hamper their efforts to revitalize the capitalist economy through reindustrialization. Finally, the idea that “overpopulation” would lower living standards and lead to political instability was a source of concern within SCAP-GHQ in light of the escalating Cold War. As overpopulation was understood to intersect with wide-ranging issues, such as food, land, labor, health, and security, various officers within SCAP-GHQ engaged with the issue.
The narrative of a population crisis prompted the Japanese government and SCAP-GHQ to build an institutional infrastructure to tackle the problem.Footnote 20 Within SCAP-GHQ, officers and consultants in the Public Health and Welfare Section (PH&W) and Natural Resources Section (NRS) held various conferences on the issue.Footnote 21 Within the Japanese government, IPP was reinstalled as early as May 1946 to assist the MHW, which continued to take charge of population issues.Footnote 22 In April 1949, the government founded the Advisory Council on Population Problems (ACPP) within the cabinet. The government also advised that the IRPP – dormant during a brief period after the end of the war – resume its policymaking activities. In April 1946, the IRPP set up a Committee on Population Measures (IRPP-CPM) dedicated solely to the deliberation of population policies.Footnote 23 From that time forward, these three organizations – IPP, IRPP, and ACPP – established a collaborative relationship so tightknit that population policy expert Nagai Tōru (see Chapter 3) described it as a “trinity for the deliberation of population issues” in post-WWII Japan.Footnote 24 According to this model, the IPP would conduct research and generate data on population, the IRPP would deliberate over population issues using IPP data and submit draft recommendations to the ACPP, and finally, the ACPP would deliberate and submit resolutions to the government.Footnote 25 Over the 1950s, the “trinity” system became so firmly established that recommendations made by the three organizations were readily taken up by the government, and they shaped key population policies.Footnote 26
Contraceptive birth control – used synonymously with “family planning” (kazoku keikaku) – was a key population policy the “trinity” enthusiastically pursued during the 1950s.Footnote 27 However, the path to making birth control policy was far from smooth. Before the war, official discourse on birth control was largely negative, reflecting the fact that the majority of policy intellectuals and policymakers were concerned with “reverse selection” and socialist, feminist, and labor movements (see Chapter 3). During the war, the government’s pronatalist policy made birth control unpopular among policymakers (see Chapter 4). This tendency continued in the period immediately after the war. Minister of Health and Welfare, and a member of the conservative Liberal Party, Ashida Hitoshi publicly expressed his reservations about birth control, arguing that an “uncontrolled practice of birth control” would lead to a “decrease in the population.”Footnote 28 MHW technical bureaucrat Yokota Toshi acknowledged the potential benefit of birth control for slowing down the rate of population growth, but he hesitated to openly endorse birth control because he believed unchecked birth control use would trigger “reverse selection.”Footnote 29
The social environment immediately after the war fueled the officials’ anxieties about birth control even more. Print media caricatured disabled, vagrant repatriate soldiers, orphaned street children, and promiscuous panpan street girls courting American GIs as embodying a eugenic crisis that was emerging from the postwar rubble.Footnote 30 Responding to this kind of press coverage, in 1946, Ashida proclaimed Japan was hit by a racial crisis; therefore, “the revival of race” (minzoku fukkō) should be a priority for his ministry.Footnote 31 Ashida’s claim facilitated the Eugenic Protection Law (EPL) that was issued in 1948. The EPL enforced compulsory sterilization, legalized abortion for patients with hereditary diseases, and simplified the procedures for eugenic and voluntary sterilization stipulated in the wartime National Eugenic Law.Footnote 32 Under these circumstances, many in the government thought unchecked birth control would catalyze “reverse selection” and be a eugenic hazard, slowing the pace of “reviving” the Japanese race.
The occupation government also maintained a cautious stance toward birth control. There were chiefly two reasons for this attitude: First, with the advent of the Cold War, SCAP-GHQ officials feared that the Soviets might purposefully portray the SCAP’s endorsement of birth control in Japan as an act of genocide by a conqueror race, compare it to the medical crimes committed by Germans on the Jews, and use these arguments to topple US hegemony in world politics.Footnote 33 Second, the SCAP-GHQ’s hesitant attitude toward birth control reflected the personal situation surrounding Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur avoided the matter of birth control altogether because he feared it would negatively impact his own political career back home if the SCAP-GHQ officially endorsed birth control – in particular, it could negatively impact his plan to run for the Republican presidential nomination based on support from Catholics.Footnote 34
Yet, some within the SCAP-GHQ, especially in the NRS, were of the opinion that the occupation authorities should help diffuse birth control in Japan. This opinion became pronounced after the delegate from the Far Eastern Commission visited Japan in January 1946 and suggested the SCAP-GHQ consider ordering the Japanese to use birth control.Footnote 35 The sense of urgency was intensified when the delegates of the mission group Reconnaissance in Public Health and Demography in the Far East, dispatched by the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in 1948, met high-rank officials within the SCAP-GHQ – most notably Crawford F. Sams, chief of the PH&W. Sams, originally wary of birth control, changed his opinion after the delegates’ visit.Footnote 36 Eventually, the SCAP-GHQ adopted a policy that Deborah Oakley called “protective neutralism.”Footnote 37 With this policy, the SCAP-GHQ publicly proclaimed neutrality on the issue of birth control but actively supported Japanese initiatives to popularize birth control behind the scenes.
Within the Japanese government, too, a critical watershed moment for birth control came in the late 1940s. Around this time, medical and demographic researchers began to publicly endorse contraception.Footnote 38 Behind these endorsements were general concerns regarding “overpopulation,” but more immediately, the rise in the abortion rate that they witnessed during the period played a critical part. Abortion, illegal since the Criminal Code in 1880 (see Chapter 2), became de facto legalized under the 1949 amendment of the EPL, which permitted women to have abortions for economic reasons. After the amendment, abortion rates surged.Footnote 39 Medical researchers attributed the expanding availability of induced abortions, which was made possible by the EPL, to the rise in the abortion rates, and from the perspective of maternal and infant health, they began to lobby for contraceptive birth control as a viable alternative to induced abortion.Footnote 40
Policy intellectuals around this time also felt an urgent need to wade into popular birth control practice from a eugenic point of view. As some population experts in the ACPP saw it, birth control thus far, because it was unchecked, “now spread … among those who have intellectual professions in cities.” It was virtually absent in “special areas” where “a large number of people with undesirable hereditary qualities live together” and in the places that acted as “hotbeds of all sorts of social evils,” “plagued with venereal diseases, alcoholism, and narcotic poisoning…. If conception control is not propagated in these areas,” they continued, “the so-called reverse selection is sure to appear, and the future of the nation will present a gloomy prospect.”Footnote 41 Fueled by this doomsday picture, the ACPP members came to think that it would be better off if the government had a heavy-handed approach to birth control rather than leaving its current laissez-faire state alone.
Consequently, from around the spring of 1949, there were moves to endorse a birth control policy. To start with, in April 1949, taking up the pro–birth control opinion of American sociologist Warren S. Thompson, now temporarily serving as consultant to the NRS of the SCAP-GHQ, Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru himself stated in the Diet that birth control was necessary for solving the population problem.Footnote 42 Following Yoshida’s statement, in the same month, the cabinet formed the ACPP. In May 1949, the group within the MHW in charge of deliberating on the actual terms for the popularization of birth control began to consider the contraceptive methods that would be recommended for use in community health centers.Footnote 43 Throughout the month, the MHW also issued an approval for the distribution of twenty-six birth control medicines, including the contraceptive jelly brand Contra.Footnote 44 In June 1949, the ACPP subdivision in charge of matters concerning population control reached an agreement that “birth control is necessary as a check on population control” and began to work on the actual recommendations.Footnote 45
Eventually, in November 1949, the ACPP submitted a policy proposal to the government.Footnote 46 The proposal characterized abortion as an invasive surgical procedure harming mothers’ health and recommended birth control to replace induced abortion. It also portrayed the current state of unchecked birth control as a risk factor for “lowering” the quality of the Japanese race and also recommended the popularization of guided birth control on the grounds of eugenics.Footnote 47 With the proposal, the ACPP responded to the government need to tame the surplus population and to protect the quality of the Japanese population.
Following these moves by the occupation and Japanese authorities, on October 26, 1951, the cabinet decided to popularize birth control throughout the country, with the MHW responsible for its implementation. In 1952, the EPL was amended to accommodate this new policy, which assigned the Eugenic Marriage Consultation Offices based within local health offices the task of providing guidance on birth control to married couples.Footnote 48 The amendment also created a new category of healthcare professionals: “birth control field instructors” (jutai chōsetsu jicchi shidōin).Footnote 49 Recruited primarily from the pool of midwives and public health nurses, “birth control field instructors” were expected to hold seminars on birth control and distribute contraceptives to married couples in their communities at wholesale prices. Recommendations by the “trinity” mobilized central and local government health agencies to organize activities to disseminate the knowledge and practice of birth control across the country.Footnote 50
Birth control in the 1951 policy was defined officially as a means to protect the “life and health of mothers.” However, it was clear to the people in the know that it was a measure for population control.Footnote 51 A change came in July 1954, when the IRPP-CPM submitted the “Resolution Concerning the Popularization of Family Planning as Population Measure” to urge the government to clarify its position on the relationship between birth control and population control. Based on the IRPP-CPM proposal, in August 1954, the ACPP further submitted the “Resolution Concerning the Quantitative Adjustment of the Population” and demanded the government define birth control explicitly as a population policy.Footnote 52 Responding to the ACPP proposal, in the same year, Minister of Health and Welfare Kusaba Ryūen publicly announced the government’s commitment to birth control as a population policy.Footnote 53 From then on, the term “population control” (jinkō yokusei) was used openly to characterize the government-endorsed activities propagating the knowledge and practice of birth control. Throughout the process, until 1952, SCAP-GHQ officers and consultants were behind the scenes, offering tangible help for the Japanese to make progress in policymaking.Footnote 54
The process of establishing a government birth control policy illustrates how various assertions about “overpopulation,” fueled by eagerness for national reconstruction, prompted the state to attempt to discipline reproductive bodies through policy. Yet, the “state,” striving to control its population size via birth control, was not a faceless administrative machine. It was supported by the daily activities of technical bureaucrats who were trusted as state actors.
Role of Technical Bureaucrats in Birth Control Policy
From the 1920s onward, research and technical bureaucrats became increasingly important for the creation of population policies (see Chapters 3 and 4).Footnote 55 Originally, their contributions were centered on policy-oriented population research and policymaking, and only a few took part in the actual implementation of measures. However, with a post-WWII birth control policy that required concrete initiatives, some technical bureaucrats eagerly undertook more practical roles.
Among them, Shinozaki Nobuo stood out.Footnote 56 He was among the first anthropology graduates at the University of Tokyo after Hasebe Kotondo (1882–1969) founded the Department of Anthropology in 1939. Following graduation, he remained in the department as an assistant professor until June 1943, when he joined the MHW-RI Department of Population and Race. After the war, as a midcareer bureaucrat affiliated with the reinstalled IPP, Shinozaki assumed an important position within the “trinity” as secretary for the IRPP-CPM’s Second Sectional Meeting and actively participated in the policy debate on population control. And, in the 1950s, Shinozaki made efforts to implement birth control programs as part of government policy.
Shinozaki became involved in official birth control work immediately after the war, when groups of up-and-coming bureaucrats and population experts were pursuing the possibility of adopting fertility regulation as a viable technique of population control.Footnote 57 However, he nurtured an interest in fertility during the war. In the context of wartime race and population research, when an investigation of the eugenic implications of a group’s ability to reproduce was a priority, Shinozaki conducted a survey of research on miscegenation across the world and studied how these works indicated the influence of miscegenation on birth rates.Footnote 58 Even after the war, this theme – the correlation between a race’s biological profile and fertility pattern – continued to shape Shinozaki’s work, but this time, Shinozaki carried out a study that examined, from the eugenic perspective, the effect of consanguineous marriage on fertility within Japan.Footnote 59 These eugenic and demographic studies on race and fertility certainly acted as a foundation for Shinozaki’s involvement in the official campaign to spread birth control after the war.
In addition to this, Shinozaki’s birth control work was also driven by the conviction that Japanese women of the new, post-WWII era should adopt what he called “modern birth control,” or rationally planned, proactive contraceptive practices based on scientific principles.Footnote 60 In a small survey he conducted immediately after the war, Shinozaki observed that women were resorting to abortion to terminate unplanned pregnancies, and this was impacting population trends. Even worse, he found that many women seemed to be embracing the erroneous assumption that the “abortion and infanticide of the Tokugawa era” was “modern birth control.” In Shinozaki’s view, this tendency symbolized how the backward past was lingering in the modern era, causing friction with official efforts to build a modern, rational, and democratic society. In contrast, “modern birth control,” or the rational application of contraceptive practices, would directly assist the government’s endeavor by creating a suitably disciplined family. Based on this view, Shinozaki claimed that education about “modern birth control,” embedded in an “active effort to rationalize and improve life,” was urgently needed.Footnote 61
In the 1950s, Shinozaki was committed to realizing this through the post-WWII New Life Movement, a half-state, half-private initiative intended to promote a democratic, efficient, and cultured life by rationalizing everyday activities.Footnote 62 He became a member of the New Life Guidance Committee, a committee within the IRPP to deliberate on introducing family planning into the New Life Movement. The movement’s ethos resonated perfectly with his concept of “modern birth control.” Furthermore, Shinozaki believed the movement’s existing structure, as well as fostering the private-government partnership, would make it easier for him to entice the birth control program’s major stakeholders, namely, private corporations, into joining his cause. Finally, Shinozaki was convinced a program within the movement promoting “modern birth control” would be a win-win for both government and private corporations. Disciplined families with fewer children, attained through “modern birth control,” would produce financial benefits for both – the government would save on child welfare costs while companies would pay less for benefit packages. Shinozaki used this argument to garner support for his birth control program within the New Life Movement.Footnote 63
Between December 1954 and September 1957, Shinozaki, together with the IRPP head Nagai Tōru and Aoki Hisao (1922–80), another IRPP committee member and Shinozaki’s colleague at the IPP, championed these plans to over 140 companies and chambers of commerce.Footnote 64 Once the New Life Movement family planning program had been launched, Shinozaki organized a national council of private corporations to facilitate communication between company representatives.Footnote 65 He also liaised between the MHW’s Department of Welfare and private corporations to ensure the program’s smooth operation. By 1958, in part due to Shinozaki’s activities, eighty-three public and private corporations had launched or begun to prepare in-house family planning programs.Footnote 66
Through his birth control campaign for the New Life Movement, Shinozaki became instrumental in the initiatives underpinning the official birth control policy. He took advantage of his position within government to influence policymaking. He implemented policy by liaising between government officials and other stakeholders, thereby reducing the distance between the government and the governed, and facilitating state efforts to manage the population.
While organizing the family planning initiative for the New Life Movement, Shinozaki led a series of birth control survey research. Shinozaki’s research highlights the unique contributions technical bureaucrats made to the government’s efforts to govern the population at a specific moment in postwar history when the boundaries of the Japanese population once again were in flux.
Shinozaki and Birth Control Research
Immediately following the war, as “overpopulation” became a topic of policy discussion, research institutes in Japan – both state and nonstate funded – began to survey opinions on birth control. As early as August 1946, the IRPP published an internal document based on a research survey titled “A Trend in the Public Opinion of Birth Control.”Footnote 67 Jiji Press and Asahi Newspaper conducted similar surveys in 1949.Footnote 68 Within the government, the National Public Opinion Research Institute of the Prime Minister’s Office conducted a survey of the public opinion on birth control; the report came out in 1952.Footnote 69 In 1947, the IPP assumed responsibility for birth control survey research from the IRPP. Since then, the IPP technical bureaucrats have published key surveys on birth control practices. Between 1946 and around 1960, government agencies and media organizations generated a seemingly inexhaustible supply of birth control surveys.
Within the IPP, Shinozaki was made responsible for the majority of its birth control surveys. From 1947 on, his survey team conducted pilot surveys. Between 1951 and 1952, to construct a “national” picture of birth control practices, the team visited seventeen prefectures and collected data from a total of 44,509 individuals.Footnote 70 During this period, Shinozaki was certainly dedicated to this survey work.
What motivated Shinozaki to conduct this birth control survey research? I argue that we need to pay attention to his multiple attributes as a government bureaucrat, birth control campaigner, and scientific expert, because this triple identity fueled his enthusiasm for the state-endorsed birth control work, including the survey research. First, and most obviously, he was involved in the work because it was part of his job. But, his dedication to the surveys was not merely the result of his role as a state bureaucrat.Footnote 71 Shinozaki’s enthusiasm for this work also stemmed from his belief that the survey research would validate the corporate-based New Life Movement campaign.Footnote 72 Because of Shinozaki’s conviction, the IPP research was often targeted at workers. A pilot survey recruited participants from the staff at the University of Tokyo’s School of Medicine, the Japan Steel Pipe Company (Nihon Kōkan , a.k.a. NKK), Fuji Electronics Appliances Company, the MHW and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, in addition to the Ajinomoto Company.Footnote 73 By organizing this type of survey, Shinozaki was able justify and even improve his family planning initiative in the New Life Movement. In other words, surveys helped to establish the postwar officially endorsed birth control campaign Shinozaki had vested interests in.
Finally, his attributes as a race and population scientist were also critical and motivated his leadership in the survey research. Shinozaki was an active member of the Population Association of Japan (PAJ), founded on November 11, 1948, as the first professional organization dedicated to the advancement of demographic studies in Japan.Footnote 74 From its inception, at almost every annual meeting, Shinozaki supported the PAJ’s activities. In the early period, he actively presented his research on birth control, fertility, miscegenation, population quality, the mental ability of children of lower-class parents, etc.Footnote 75 Shinozaki continued to occupy a central position in the organization later in his career. In 1974, he headed the organizing committee for the annual meeting, and in 1983–84, he served as the president. In this context, the birth control survey research in the early 1950s carried a special meaning for Shinozaki as a midcareer population expert: It helped advance his status as a scientist and PAJ member. Shinozaki’s birth control work in bureaucracy, birth control activism, and his science-building activities were all tightly enmeshed, and the manner in which the science-building activities were coproduced with policymaking explains Shinozaki’s commitment to the birth control work.
In the birth control survey research, Shinozaki and his colleagues collected data through questionnaires and interviews. Questionnaires were mainly multiple choice, inviting respondents to tick the one or more boxes they deemed closest to their answers. For the question, “Why have you not practiced birth control?,” for example, the questionnaires provided the following options: “(1) Because I do not know about contraception (2) Because I feel it is a burden (3) Because I do not like it (4) Because either a husband or a wife is infertile.”Footnote 76 The interview that typically followed was intended to fill gaps in the knowledge gained from these questionnaires. Often conducted by a fieldworker at a respondent’s home, these included intimate details about sexual behavior as well as opinions on contraception.Footnote 77
For the most part, Shinozaki’s team reported the survey results in the form of numerical data, categorized by the respondents’ personal attributes. For instance, in the survey of birth control practices in the Tokyo suburbs of Musashino City, Abiko Town, Tanaka Village, Tomise Village, and Kobari Village, the team would first calculate the actual number and percentage of “practitioners” against the total populations of the five administrative units – 361 (43.1%), 218 (15.3%), 52 (6.9%), 76 (12.3%), 9 (3.7%) – then catalog the data according to husband’s occupation and level of education, wife’s age and occupation, duration of marriage, number of children, and, finally, the amount of cultivated land.Footnote 78 The assumption was that this way of displaying numerical data would accurately reveal not only the opinions of the respondents but also the “actual state of the spread of birth control,” as expressed in the title of the research survey.
The survey was conducted on the premise that collecting respondents’ opinions on the “actual state” (jittai) of their reproductive and sexual lives would facilitate the creation of successful policies.Footnote 79 This assumption needs further analysis: How could the opinions about birth control contribute to the government’s efforts to govern Japan’s population? Koyama Eizō, first director of the National Public Opinion Research Institute and a former colleague of Shinozaki at the IPP during the war, held ideas that help us address this question.Footnote 80 According to Koyama, opinion research never simply mirrored the mood of the general public but was rather a force in itself, shaping the current of mainstream opinion. Koyama further contended that the role of the government in this situation was that of a doctor: coordinating opinions based on research results and intervening if attitudes revealed “maladies.”Footnote 81 Faith in the corrective power of the knowledge produced by their surveys was widely shared by IPP officials, who believed their research into public opinions on family size and ideal contraception practices would be utilized by the government to influence reproductive behaviors as required. Birth control surveys thus enjoyed a special status within the state, in part because of the certainty that public opinion could be utilized as a tool of governance.
Despite this confidence, Shinozaki’s fieldwork at times faltered, especially when research subjects refused to cooperate. For instance, in 1949–50, when Shinozaki’s survey team conducted fieldwork in Aomori, Iwate, and Miyagi Prefectures, as many as 2,073 married couples either did not return the questionnaire or returned it incomplete.Footnote 82 Further investigation revealed that 455 of those couples had found the questionnaire too difficult to understand, 85 could not be bothered to fill it in, and a small number stated they were simply “not interested” or “did not like to be asked such questions.”Footnote 83 The scientific knowledge gleaned from such fieldwork could potentially detail only a partial picture of the “actual state.”
Nevertheless, throughout the 1950s, Shinozaki tirelessly led survey research with the conviction that cumulative data on opinions about birth control on a regional level would eventually form a big picture, capturing what he termed the “actual state of the spread of birth control” throughout Japan, and that this big picture would enable the government to effectively implement population policies.Footnote 84 His trust that scientific data could facilitate the governing of Japan’s population reinforced his passion for the research.
Reimagining the Japanese Population
In the context of postwar Japan, when the idea of “Japan’s population” itself was in flux, Shinozaki’s research did not merely create knowledge about reproductive bodies for the state. Since it clarified patterns of reproductive behaviors that would directly inform the future profile of population dynamics, Shinozaki’s surveys participated in the broader bureaucratic activity of compiling demographic data to establish a new interpretation of the Japanese population.
Immediately after the war, scientific investigations to collect numerical facts about the population emerged as a major bureaucratic objective in Japan. Following surrender, the Japanese Empire collapsed almost overnight, triggering territorial disputes and mass migration on a scale not witnessed in the previous era.Footnote 85 Migrations and shifting national borders challenged the existing notion of the “Japanese population” that had held currency under colonial rule.Footnote 86 For both the Japanese state and Occupation governments, this was highly problematic: Various factors shaping sovereignty, such as citizenship and land ownership, relied on this destabilized category.Footnote 87 Under these circumstances, examination of the Japanese population became a priority.
Thus, government offices swiftly began to compile population statistics. Censuses were carried out by the SCAP-GHQ six times between September 1945 and October 1950,Footnote 88 and the Japanese government’s IPP and Cabinet Bureau of Statistics were assigned similar tasks.Footnote 89 The actual processes of collecting and presenting demographic data were complex, indicating how much effort population bureaucrats made to stabilize knowledge of the Japanese population.Footnote 90 Constant adjustments were required when calculating demographic data to accommodate ongoing political changes.Footnote 91
For technical bureaucrats in charge of compiling population figures, this kind of adjustment was a standard administrative task. Yet, in the specific context of postwar Japan, it was simultaneously more than just routine work: These endeavors intimately interacted with the process of redrawing the boundaries of Japanese citizenship.Footnote 92 To conform to this legal practice, compiling population statistics required constant negotiations over who should be included in, or expunged from, the category of Japanese. Through the adjustment work of technical bureaucrats, the population of Japan would soon be repackaged as a historically consistent, ethnically homogenous, national group in accord with the new political outlines of the Japanese state.
Similarly, Shinozaki’s research portraying the individuals who would produce the future Japanese population also contributed to the image of ethnically homogenous Japanese nationals. However, in contrast to the census work, which categorized various constituents of the former empire along ethnic and territorial lines, the birth control research confirmed this image by presenting ethnicity as a nonissue: Generally silent on the racial identity of research participants, the surveys suggested this was self-evident. On the odd occasion that race was mentioned, it was depicted as a foreign phenomenon. For instance, one of Shinozaki’s surveys introduced a table showing ethnicity – “black” and “white” – as a factor in the correlation between pregnancy rates and socioeconomic class, but this was simply a citation from research conducted in the United States.Footnote 93 As the table was for reference only, the impression was given that ethnicity was tangential to reflections on Japanese demographic phenomena. By presenting race in this manner, the research projected a message that was then flourishing in official discourse: Only reproduction by ethnic Japanese people should count in the reconstruction of Japan as a nation.
In reality, the boundaries of the Japanese population during this period was far more contested than Shinozaki’s research suggests, mirroring the reconfiguration of postwar Japan that Lori Watt once characterized as “the uneven and incomplete process of absorbing and re-categorizing the fragments of empire within Japan.”Footnote 94 Following the collapse of the empire, Japanese citizens in the former colonies and soldiers at the front were redefined as “people of Japan Proper placed externally” (zaigai naichijin). Some repatriated to Japan, others stayed away. Among those who did not return were young women marrying into Chinese families, who became known as “remaining women” (zanryū fujin), as well as adopted Japanese orphans, the “children left behind in China” (chūgoku zanryū koji). While the majority of the 700,000 Koreans forcibly migrated to Japan during the war were repatriated to the Korean Peninsula after 1945, those who stayed in Japan became known as zainichi Koreans.Footnote 95 Furthermore, with the advent of the US Occupation, the people of Okinawa were now legally called Ryukyuans and declared “foreigners,” along with former Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese colonial subjects.Footnote 96 Finally, immediately after the occupation, the Japanese press declared a national crisis over the existence of orphaned “mixed-blood children” (konketsuji).Footnote 97 Whether these groups belonged to the Japanese population and what criteria should be used to determine eligibility were thorny issues for policymakers and technical bureaucrats specializing in population.
It was against this backdrop that Shinozaki’s policy-oriented survey research attempted to uncover the “actual state” of the Japanese people’s birth control practices. In a context in which the definition of the Japanese population itself remained uncertain, the quantification of reproductive experience was not simply a mathematical practice; it also intersected with the question of how to recognize the Japanese population in the face of the shifting geopolitical landscape of East Asia. The birth control research engaged with this issue primarily by maintaining silence on the issue of race. This act of silence, I argue, ultimately served to stabilize increasing official claims of Japan’s ethnonational identity.
In addition, birth control surveys adopted an extra framework that corresponded to the domestic goal of reconstruction. As I will explain in the next section, this was an introspective perspective that compelled viewers to focus on the Japanese as a productive unit contributing to the reconstruction effort through economic means.
Designing a Productive Population for the Nation’s Bright Economic Future
If race was not a primary category for classifying participants in the birth control research, then what was? As suggested above, Shinozaki’s survey employed sociological classifications and internal regional differences to explore demographic variations. The report, submitted on the authority of the IPP on February 1, 1952, was based on the survey research led by Shinozaki and also used these classifications. First, the report – consisting mainly of numerical data presented in tables – classified research participants into two categories, “those practicing birth control” (jikkōsha) and “those who are not” (fujikkōsha), and then further classified them according to social and geographical categories. Social categories included the husband’s educational level and occupation; geographical categories included prefectures, then the subcategories of city, town, farming village, mountain village, and fishing village.Footnote 98
Why did the IPP adopt these categories? There is no doubt that disciplinary conventions played a role; it was a long-established standard in social scientific studies to categorize data according to region and socioeconomic status. However, the fact that the IPP surveys prioritized these specific categories over other possibilities does merit attention.
To account for the inclusion of occupation and education level, Michelle Murphy’s concept of the “economization of life” is useful.Footnote 99 Murphy uses this term to refer to a “historically specific and polyvalent mode for knitting living-being to economy” and to describe “practices that differently value and govern life in terms of their ability to foster the macroeconomy of the nation-state.”Footnote 100 In Japan after the WWII, the “economization of life” acted as a guiding principle, especially in programs like the New Life Movement, in which efforts to discipline reproductive bodies were articulated in relation to reconstructing the national economy. However, Murphy also claimed that this “economization of life” had reestablished race as a category in order to determine which lives were worth reproducing. In the case of postwar Japan, at least in the domain engaging with population policies, race was associated less with the fostering of economy than with nationalism, in part due to the aforementioned assumption of ethnic homogeneity. I argue that, in this context, other kinds of social attributes, such as education and occupation, were regarded as more appropriately informative of an individual’s economic value. Birth control research embodied this logic within postwar population management.
In parallel with this, the predominant demographic discourse emerging at the time, which incorporated a progressivist narrative, acted as a crucial background for the presence of regional categories in the IPP’s research. This discourse, embodied in the so-called demographic transition theory, maintained that a correlation existed between fertility patterns and socioeconomic developments on a linear time scale.Footnote 101 The model, which also embraced the modernization theory later associated with the economist Walt W. Rostow, claimed that demographic patterns universally shifted from a “high-birth,” “high-death” to a “low-birth,” “low-death” model as a society progressed from the “pre-industrial” to “post-industrial” stage. In the Cold War, this discourse was used to justify transnational family planning aid programs in “underdeveloped” nations to establish a “free-world” alliance revolving around the United States.Footnote 102 In post-WWII Japan, the same discourse reinforced a deep-seated stereotype that cast rural areas and lower socioeconomic classes as the source of the nation’s “overpopulation” problem and cities as enlightened spaces where the educated classes voluntarily practiced birth control. It simultaneously sanctioned the diffusionist view inscribed in the state campaign: The idea and practice of birth control would necessarily flow from “modern” urban centers to peripheral backwaters.
The IPP birth control survey internalized this developmentalist narrative and opted for regional analytic categories. A focus on regions went hand in hand with the diffusionist perspective, which was even integrated into research questions. For instance, a survey conducted by Shinozaki in the suburbs of Tokyo asked, “How much is ‘birth control’ diffused as one travels from the center of Tokyo to its neighboring towns and villages?” and compared data collected from three regions: Tokyo, “cities and towns in the suburbs of Tokyo,” and “villages in the suburbs of Tokyo.”Footnote 103 The survey’s results revealed a higher degree of “indifference” to birth control among people in the rural district compared to cities, confirming not only assumptions about lower socioeconomic development in rural areas but also the argument dominating policymaking at that time: State birth control initiatives should target the countryside.Footnote 104 This approach to data thus enabled researchers to craft their research findings in ways that were comprehensible for the policy agenda.
On the surface, this focus on regional categories appears disconnected from economic rationale. However, in reality, consideration of the national economy was an omnipresent backdrop. For instance, a mid-1950s policy discussion on the rural population was dominated by the issue of how the economy could absorb the expanding labor force to prevent them from becoming “the complete unemployed” (kanzen shitsugyōsha).Footnote 105 Even after the Japanese economy experienced high economic growth in the late 1950s and concerns about unemployment had dissipated, economic considerations formed the core of policy discussions on peripheral populations. In the early 1960s, when members of the IRPP-CPM Second Special Committee brought up the issues of “population quality” as a policy agenda, family planning was linked to issues of “regional development” (chiiki kaihatsu). A type of social policy was emerging as a response to Japan’s post-WWII reconstruction efforts, which were by that time being criticized as too weighted toward economic development.Footnote 106
Through sorting data by socioeconomic and regional characteristics, the birth control research inscribed the economic rationale underpinning the state’s objective to reconstruct the nation. In so doing, it simultaneously categorized respondents’ sexual lives in terms of their reproductive and productive capacities. The image of the Japanese population that emerged as a result was that of an aggregate of individuals whose ability to produce labor and Japanese offspring would contribute to the reproduction of the national economy and the nation’s population. This portrayal of the Japanese population consolidated the official standpoint and enabled the prioritization of supposedly stable internal subcategories over the haphazard movements of people breaching Japan’s newly formed territorial borders. It certainly left little space for any reflection on racial politics, but rather it provided an opportunity to reinforce postwar Japan’s officially sanctioned identity, which was based on a narrative of ethnic homogeneity and amnesia about the country’s colonial past.
The story of the birth control survey boom during post-WWII reconstruction is significant for the following three points. First, it details how the survey research was uniquely and directly embedded in postwar Japan’s search for a new identity – a specific historical juncture when the dismantling of the Japanese Empire fundamentally reconfigured politics, the economy, and society.Footnote 107 Second, it highlights how knowledge produced through the official birth control survey research deftly paralleled state efforts to govern the Japanese via birth control policy, both mobilized for the grand mission of postwar reconstruction. Finally, state-led population management did not simply happen because a policy acted as an embodiment of diffused power; rather, it was shaped by the everyday activities of technical bureaucrats. Birth control survey research and the state’s population control effort realized through the birth control policy maintained a coproductive but fundamentally complex relationship. Yet, ultimately, the outcomes of this relationship reinforced the process of post-WWII reconstruction by providing an epistemological framework with which to imagine Japan’s population in terms of ethnic homogeneity and economic rationale. The influence of this social imaginary was expansive: The resulting narrative of the Japanese population had a profound impact on the contours of population science and the mode of state population management for many years to come.
This chapter gives the impression that postwar birth control work was strictly a “national” project: It has illustrated how the work was directly accountable for the domestic population policy. The main focus of the chapter was a technical bureaucrat who served the national government. The chapter also depicted how the research subjects in the birth control surveys were the citizens who made up the postwar Japanese nation-state. However, postwar birth control research was never solely a domestic endeavor. It was firmly embedded in the transnational population control movement.