Japan’s public health committee paved the way for the approval of the birth control by softening its negative stance on the pill’s use. The committee had earlier concluded that the pill’s use could help spread sexually transmitted diseases. A June 16th meeting, however, drew over 100 women supporters who criticized the committee for using the pill to push its own agenda on sexually transmitted diseases. Advocates of the pill’s approval argued that the two issues must be discussed separately and that women have a right to access to the birth control pill. The committee, in essence, did not give an opinion either way on whether or not to approve the pill. Its report said that, should the pill be used, condoms should also be used. A spokesperson for a pharmaceutical firm commented, “We have progressed an important step. The committee’s report can now be read as saying that it is OK to approve the pill.” The committee’s lack of a negative stance will aid the pill’s approval by the Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Council, the last hurdle to official approval. Japan remains the only major country in the world which bans the pill for contraceptive purposes.
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