Reproductive rights elusive 1 year after Japan’s approval of abortion pill

April 20, 2024
By Chermaine Lee

OSAKA, JAPAN — Wider access to abortion in Japan has largely remained elusive a year after the historic approval of medical abortion pills.

In April last year, lawmakers approved the use of the two-step abortion pill — MeFeego Pack — for pregnancies up to nine weeks. Before that, women in the East Asian nation could only receive a surgical abortion in private clinics by designated surgeons that often charge as much as $370.

Financial strain aside, women were often required to provide proof of spousal consent to receive an abortion, making it nearly impossible for them to make the decision on their own. Reports showed that even for single women, doctors still asked for permission of a male partner before agreeing to perform such surgeries.


Consent issue casts shadow on safe abortion in Japan

Sep 28, 2023

As the world observes International Safe Abortion Day on Thursday, there is growing focus on the movement in Japan for safe and accessible abortion practices. The recent approval of the first abortion pill in the nation offers a glimmer of hope, but archaic rules governing consent — rooted in Japan's eugenics history — persist, casting a shadow on safe access.

The 1996 Maternal Health Act, which includes the spousal consent law, evolved from the 1948 Eugenic Protection Act, which opened the path for legal abortion. The former abolished eugenic provisions to create the law Japan follows today.


Japan’s First Abortion Pill Is Here — and Elusive

By Kanoko Matsuyama
June 19, 2023

Japan approved its first abortion pill in April, decades after countries like the US and France, for use by women who are up to nine weeks pregnant.

The green light finally gives Japanese women an option to abort pregnancy without surgery, and empowers our rights in a country ranked 116th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report last year — near Burkina Faso and Tajikistan — and where women must consult with doctors to get oral contraceptives.

But it’s hard for us to be overjoyed about our progress, as access to the treatment is highly restricted. 


Japan – A big but awkward step forward

Kumi Tsukahara, Hatena Blog

In Japan, the Mefeego Pack, a combi-product of one Mifepristone and four Misoprostol tablets, was launched on May 16, 2023, and the Japan Women's Foundation's Dr. Miho Uchida's clinic began offering "oral abortion pills" for the first time in Japan on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

As far as we could confirm on May 27, 11 hospitals or clinics joined the providers listed on the website of the manufacturer Linepharma K.K. as institutions that can handle this drug, however on Monday morning, all the other clinics that followed the lead of Dr. Uchida's Fides Ladies Clinic disappeared from the list.


Japan approves abortion pill for the first time

Health ministry gives green light for two-step treatment to end pregnancies up to nine weeks

Agence France-Presse in Tokyo
Sat 29 Apr 2023

The abortion pill is to become available in Japan for the first time after the health ministry approved a drug used to terminate early-stage pregnancies.

Abortion is legal in Japan up to 22 weeks, but consent is usually required from a spouse or partner, and until now a surgical procedure had been the only option.


Mefeego Pack approved as 1st abortion pill in Japan

April 28, 2023
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's health ministry approved Friday for the first time the sale of an oral abortion pill, giving women in early pregnancy an alternative to the surgical procedure.

The pill, called Mefeego Pack developed by British pharmaceutical company Linepharma International Ltd., can terminate a pregnancy of up to 9 weeks of gestation, and is considered safer than the surgical abortions that have been used hereto.


Japan approves first abortion pill, decades after other countries

By Jessie Yeung and Eru Ishikawa, CNN
Mon April 24, 2023

A panel in Japan’s health ministry has approved the country’s first abortion pill, in a major step for reproductive rights decades after other countries made abortion medication widely available.

The ministry’s pharmaceutical board granted approval on Friday to the MeFeego Pack, an abortion pill manufactured by British pharmaceutical Linepharma, according to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.


Japan panel approves nation’s first abortion pill

Apr 21, 2023

A health ministry panel on Friday approved the country’s first abortion pill, which would provide an alternative to a surgical procedure amid calls for progress in women’s reproductive rights and gender equality.

The ministry announced the move after a secondary panel reviewed 12,000 public comments collected online. Final approval from the health minister is expected to follow, but the timing remains unclear.


Japan moves toward approving abortion pill in major shift

Feb 27, 2023

Japan is moving closer to approving an abortion pill for the first time, a step that could offer women more options amid calls for progress in gender equality, with a secondary panel at the health ministry expected to make a decision as early as March.

In January, an initial advisory panel at the health ministry approved the production and sale of the drug, Mefeego. It still needs approval from a separate panel at the ministry as it collects public comments online until Tuesday, with the final decision to be made by the health minister.


1st oral abortion pill steps closer to approval in Japan

Jan 27, 2023

A pharmaceutical advisory body for Japan's health ministry on Friday expressed no objection to the manufacturing and marketing of an abortion pill, bringing the medication a step closer to becoming the first of its kind to gain approval in the country.

Abortions in early stages of pregnancies in Japan are currently limited to surgical procedures, and the oral pill, if approved, is seen as a new option that could lighten both physical and mental stress on women.