chapter  14
17 Pages

The science of population and birth control in post-war Japan


After World War II, the Japanese government adopted a different method of tackling population growth. Whereas the pre-war government was comfortable with relieving Japan’s surplus population by emigration and territorial expansion, the post-war government relied on birth control to slow the population growth.1 Despite the change in population management technique, one theme remained consistent: population scientists acted as policy advisors. This essay examines the entanglement between population science and

population governance immediately after World War II. It analyzes debates on population and birth control research that contributed to the state-endorsed birth control campaign. Drawing on the existing works on the campaign as well as coproduction theory proposed in science and technology studies (STS), this essay depicts how the Japanese state’s post-war birth control policy was coproduced with a particular kind of population science that insisted on the necessity of birth control for Japan’s post-war reconstruction.2