remcat: 研究資料集

(TANAKA Sigeto)

Chronicle from 1974 to 2015

Here is a summary of the history of the egg aging campaign and related discourses.

“卵子の老化” (egg aging) was mentioned in a discussion at a symposium [3] by the Japanese Association of Medical Sciences (JAMS) (in Aug.).
Dr. Suzuki [2] published an overview article on egg aging in Japanese.
Dr. Suzuki [53] published the graph of the number of eggs by age (no citation), identical to Figure 3.

The term egg aging is found in a recorded discussion at a JAMS symposium in 1974. During such a period, this concept was used with the original meaning: degeneration of germ cells as a result of delayed fertilization. It was used to imply the increasing chromosomal abnormality along with advancing age of mothers. Another topic was the proliferation of female germ cells in a fetus and their subsequent disappearance. These biological arguments were not associated with birthrate decline of the country.

In the US, the faulty data of the declining probability of pregnancy (Tables 1 and 2) appeared in the late 1990s. These were not imported into Japan at that time.

Rosenthal The Fertility Sourcebook (first edition)
2nd ed. of Rosenthal's book [40] included Table 2.
Carcio's book Management of the Infertile Woman [39] published Table 1.
Dr. Yoshimura mentioned egg aging in a book targeting general audience [4].
The Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) published a report on women's healthcare as a proposal to raise the national birthrate [54].

The HGPI's report in 2005 was the first case in public discourse that associated age-related fertility decline with the decline of the country's birthrate. It featured a round curve derived from the study of Menken et al. [45] (Figure 10) to describe the decline in women's biological fertility after their mid-30s.

In 2009, Dr. Asada published a book for a general audience. It said (without citation) that 1,000 eggs disappear from women's ovaries every month so that the stock of eggs runs out by the age of 37 years.

Dr. Asada's book [25] introduced the linear decline in the number of eggs.
The IFDMS was conducted.
Prof. Boivin visited Japan and had lectures on the IFDMS results for media and lawmakers (Feb.).
FRaU (women's magazine by Kodansha) featured fertility issues [10] (July)
NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) TV programs about egg aging [5] (Feb. and June)
Dr. Saito and Shirakawa's book on fertility issues and women's life [55] (Mar.)
Noda Seiko cited the IFDMS in a question about education on fertility [11] at the Diet (Nov. 16).
The 2nd Abe Shinzo Cabinet (Dec. 26)
Dr. Yoshimura became an advisor to the Cabinet (Mar. 13).
The Cabinet Office launched a taskforce to overcome the crisis of a low birthrate (Mar. 25).
JSRM's website Infertility Q&A [22] (Apr.)
Dr. Yoshimura used the falsified graph of women's fertility with its peak at the age of 22 years [35] (June).
Subsidization scheme for measures against regional problems related to the declining birthrate
The National Governors' Association proposed a set of policies regarding population issues [56] (July).
The JSRM published a textbook [23] for training of doctors specializing in reproductive medicine (Oct.).
Governmental committee to make the new administration outline against declining birthrates
Petition by the JSOG and other eight associations [30] (Mar. 2)
Outline of Measures against the Declining Birthrate [8] (Mar. 20)
Supplementary textbook for health education in high schools [37] (Aug.)

After the result of the IFDMS was imported to Japan in 2011, discourse about egg aging and national birthrate developed. Books and magazines featured this issue. TV programs on such gained public attention.

The year 2013 was an epoch in terms of politics. The Second Abe Cabinet, launched in December 2012, appointed Dr. Yoshimura Yasunori as an advisor on measures to counter the declining birthrate and support child-raising in March 2013. It subsequently organized a taskforce to handle the low birthrate issue. These changes facilitated the medicalization of a population policy, through which obstetricians and gynecologists played a part as advisory experts.

The 2015 Outline of Measures against the Declining Birthrate established the policy of disseminating medical knowledge on fertility and childbirth. Its provision was the basis for introducing medical contents about reproduction into school education. In August 2015, the government issued a supplementary textbook and distributed it to high schools. This textbook triggered criticism on the falsified graph (Figure 6). Subsequently, researchers have discovered a number of unscientific graphs used for the egg aging campaign, which we have already seen in this brochure.

(See for the reference list.)

Chronicle from 1974 to 2015. (Unscientific Visual Representations Used for the “Egg Aging” Campaign in 2010s Japan, p. 10)