IIAS Publications Series Monographs

Women's Rights? The Politics of Eugenic Abortion in Modern Japan

Masae Kato

This volume explores the concept of Japanese reproductive rights and liberties in light of recent developments in disability studies. Masae Kato asks important questions about what constitutes personhood and how, in the twenty-first century, we come to understand eugenic abortion and other bioethical arguments. Tracing the origin and influence of the concept of a ‘right', the author places the term in local social and historical contexts in order to determine that it still carries overtones of Anglo-American philosophy, rather than universal truth. Digging deeply into Japanese debates on selective abortion, Women's Rights?: The Politics of Eugenic Abortion in Modern Japan discusses how this charged term can be both de-Westernized and de-masculinized, especially in its appropriations by the Japanese women's movement and disability scholars. In the heat of bioethical argument, the significance of the concept of ‘right' is gaining its weight. In the situation that accurate analysis of the concept is needed both by academic scholars, medical professionals and bioethicists, this book sheds a light on possible development of the notion of ‘right'.

Masae Kato is research fellow in the Socio-Genetic Marginalisation in Asia Programme (SMAP) at the International Institute for Asian Studies. She conducts research on socio-cultural factors that play a role in the reproductive decision-making process in Japan, which are compared to those from China and India in the context of SMAP. She is an assistant professor in gender studies at Leiden University, the Netherlands.