Birth children for the sake of the country
“Birth children for the sake of the country.”,-
As of late, I’ve been running into situations where I’m forced to think this.
I hear bits and pieces of the following statement every now and then; the ones who will save Japan from its crisis, from the wave of unease caused by the coronavirus, the ones who will free the future from the decreasing birth-rate and aging population and guide our country to prosperity, will be our divine mother’s wombs. Something so Sci-Fi-esque would definitely be plausible in a Sakyō Komatsu novel, but apparently, it’s something that we expect in today’s, real life society too. My middle-school-self would've never thought that the notions we learnt in history class of ‘give birth, increase the population’ would cross time and arise in the 21st century.
To begin with, even if productivity in a corporate/online work setting gets compared to the ‘reproductive power’ that women may or may not have, it just creates dissonance. People say things like “Take care of women” and “Create a society where women can work,” but it seems like they were just referring to our reproductive systems. But my body isn’t some baby-producing factory, nor is it a machine. I’m a singular human, an individual with my own beliefs and soul.
Even if I’m told to “give birth for the country,” the country wasn’t the one who birthed me. I was born from my mother’s womb, screaming out with every bone in my body for life: not to be some puzzle-piece of this puzzle of a country. There’s no way someone like that can birth a country. There’s no way us women can do something like that. Even if we do give birth, our daughters get birthed into a society where they must shoulder the fate of working and existing for the country. Please tell me, who in this world would want to bring life into such a society?
My body exists for me and me only, and I stand to reject any sort of preempted fate or infringement on it.
About Ayaka Kimura
Ayaka Kimura is a second-generation Japanese American college student who is passionate about feminism and history. She is interested in the intersection of gender, culture, and law, and is currently conducting independent research on the gender politics and feminist movements of Japan.
Translation by Ariel Tjeuw
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphic by Emily Mogami