A government panel recommended Tuesday that Japan end its decades-old ban and legalize birth control pills.
Because of a legal loophole that allows birth control pills to be prescribed for menstrual pain, an estimated 200,000 Japanese women already use them. However, they must take higher-dose pills than ones that are made in the U.S., which leads to a higher risk of side effects.
Japan may legalize birth control pills next year, but remains worried that the use of oral contraceptives would decrease the use of condoms and therefore lead to an increase in AIDS. Japan is the only industrialized country that bans birth control pills for the purpose of contraception, although they have a huge abortion industry. Studies show that most Japanese women are ignorant about oral contraceptives.