Japan and Period Poverty, Why Does it Matter?
Let’s start talking about period poverty in other countries that we wouldn’t even think about. Japan has started discussing the issue of period poverty throughout the country. Japan is considered a first world, developed country, however, within the 126.4 million people (as of 2020)that are living in Japan, period poverty is not talked about enough.
Period Poverty is lacking basic access to menstrual hygiene products or education. According to The Mainichi, a Japanese online news archive, there are many Japanese menstruators who cannot afford the high cost of menstrual products, despite them being necessary. Within this article, it talks about an organization that is working to relieve this economic burden that many menstruators have to go through in Japan. #Minna no Seiri (#Menstruation for Everyone), founded by Ayumi Taniguchi, launched a petition to protest against the raised tax rates on sanitary products. According to Kyodo News, “ the consumption tax rate, including sanitary products, in October 2019 increased from eight to ten percent” (Ami Takahashi, kyodonews.net).
Within the signatures of the petition are comments left by many desperate menstruators wanting change. Some people left comments like, “‘I live alone and don’t have a lot of money, so when I get my period, I have a lot of trouble financially, physically and mentally’ , ‘I’m really broke and I’m doing a lot of economizing when I use sanitary pads. I actually want to change to a new pad every hour or two, but I have to use the same one for five or six hours to save money’, and I couldn’t tell my parents about my period so they couldn’t buy sanitary pads for me’”
This is the reality of period poverty in Japan.
Period poverty is intertwined with taboos about menstruation. Some menstruators feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their period and the necessities that come with it, especially when it comes to sex education, an vital part of education that teaches necessary information.
On a good note, the Japanese government spent $11.8 million to aid women who cannot purchase sanitary goods. Some municipalities, such as Tokyo’s Toshima Ward and Akashi City, have started to distribute sanitary products for free in public places, including schools. (Kyodo News)
Period poverty is not just a local problem, it’s international. Like Ayumi Taniguchi said, “‘Menstruation products should be easily accessible for all the people in need, regardless of gender identity and income’”.
About the Author: Hey, my name is Kayenne Ohno, I am a Communications Member at SAPP! I signed up for a Leadership Summit with SAPP in the Summer of 2020 and was inspired to learn more about period poverty and how we can help this issue globally. Now, I’m here writing to have a discussion about period poverty with you all. Find us on IG @officialsapp & on FB @sapp4u <3