Another Science War

- Fictitious evidence on women's fertility and the “egg aging” panic in 2010s Japan
TANAKA Sigeto <>
(Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University)
Advances in Gender Research. 24: 67-92. (2017-10-30)

[Published full-text (for sale)] [Journal site] [Vol. 24] [Buy this book]

[Author manuscript PDF] [on SocArXiv] [on TOUR]

[Communication] [Links]


This paper was awarded as an Outstanding Author Contribution by the publisher, Emerald Publishing (2018-07-03).

OSF project:
ReMCat: {2017:15292126:24:67}


Purpose: In the early 2010s, Japanese society recognized and experienced a panic about increasing infertility and people's lack of knowledge about human reproduction. This paper focuses on several graphs that misrepresented or distorted scientific findings that were used in the campaign related to this panic and explores (1) how the graphs were made, used, and authorized, and (2) how they contributed to changes in discourses and policies.

Methodology/approach: Literature survey.

Findings: (1) The graphs were made in the field of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive medicine by questionable methods, including falsifying, trimming, and misunderstanding of data. (2) Researchers in the field of fertility study relied on secondary and tertiary sources thus ignoring and compounding errors. (3) Such inauthentic research was approved and politically mobilized by professional organizations, rather than being penalized or criticized. (4) Discourse based on such unscientific knowledge may have encouraged a pronatalist policy of promoting early marriage and education about human fertility and life planning, targeted at teenage girls.

Research limitations/implications: Any society suffering from a low birthrate can experience similar phenomena. This study focuses on Japan, but it has wider implications about how low integrity and quality of the presentation of medical research can cause these issues elsewhere in the world.

Social implications: This paper includes a warning against biological explanations that contain unscientific connotations about gender.

Originality/value of paper: This paper confirms how gender-related policy in 2010s Japan was influenced by science that lacked research integrity and was of sub-standard quality.


pseudoscience, reproductive medicine, pronatalist policy, fecundity, biology, education




This study is based on my activities in an activist group (高校保健副教材の使用中止・回収を求める会: I extend my thanks to the members of the group for fruitful discussion, as well as to the editors of this volume for their helpful comments.



Questions/comments are welcome.

Related sites and pages

[Published full-text (for sale)] [Manuscript PDF]

Tohoku Univ / School of Arts and Letters / Applied Japanese Linguistics / TANAKA Sigeto

History of this page:

Generated 2021-03-21 22:01 +0900 with Plain2.

Copyright (c) 2017,2018,2021 TANAKA Sigeto