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Japan’s health minister under fire for speech

Tokyo: Japan’s health minister was under fire on Sunday, despite an apology, after referring to women as “child-bearing machines” in a speech on the country’s declining birth rate.

The comments by Hakuo Yanagisawa, a 71-year-old former finance ministry bureaucrat, angered many of the nation’s leading women writers and triggered calls for his resignation.

A government survey last month predicted that Japan’s population, which in 2005 declined for the first time since World War Two, would shrink by a further 30 per cent in the next 40 years because of a dwindling birth rate.

“The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed,” he told in a meeting on Saturday of local members of the ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the western city of Matsue, Kyodo News reported.

“Because the number of child-bearing machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask is they do their best per capita.”

Yanagisawa later apologised for his choice of metaphor during his 30-minute speech, saying it had been “too uncivil”.

“I feel extremely provoked,” lifestyle columnist Izumi Momose told Kyodo.

Source: Mumbai Mirror
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