Fake Information for the “Egg Aging” Propaganda

- the role of experts and journalists in its emergence, authorization, and radicalization
TANAKA Sigeto <http://tsigeto.info/18w>
(Tohoku University)
XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology (2018-07-17)

[Slides PDF]

[Communication] [Links]

Blog article: http://b.tsigeto.info/342




The belief that women rapidly lose their fertility as they age has been popularized using biological findings about “aging” of eggs (or oocytes) in the ovaries. Recently, Japan has experienced national propaganda based on such a belief. In the past decade, doctors and medical organizations have broadcasted information about age-related fertility decline for women in their 20s and 30s. Their theory has spread on mass media without any scrutiny, creating a social pressure on women to bear children as early as possible. Such information has also served as evidence for the government's pronatalist policy of getting young people married.

This paper traces the history of the belief and explores how it emerged, progressed, and spread as authorized “scientific” knowledge by focusing on the graphs frequently used to support the “egg aging” discourse.

A literature survey revealed the following facts that exemplify the role of traditional experts and journalists in creating the “post-fact” phenomena. The graphs, seemingly quoted from the scientific literature, were actually fabricated, falsified, trimmed, or misinterpreted. Doctors manipulated graphs, supported it with unreachable citations, and provided insufficient or distorted explanations about the data and methods. These techniques are being used in the field of obstetrics and gynecology since the 1980s. Journalists have recently contributed to the propaganda, using sensational language to polish the message. During the development and radicalization of the discourse, no social mechanism was performing the fact-checking function. The “egg aging” propaganda, endorsed by medical authorities, aroused people's feeling about the alarming prospect of the country's low birthrate and shrinking population. It eventually achieved hegemony in public debates in 2010s Japan.


  1. 厚生労働省 (2013) 知っていますか? 男性のからだのこと、女性のからだのこと: 健康で充実した人生のための基礎知識. {http://www.mhlw.go.jp/seisakunitsuite/bunya/kodomo/kodomo_kosodate/boshi-hoken/dl/gyousei-01-01.pdf}
  2. 日本医学会 (1975) 第36回日本医学会シンポジウム: 初期発生(II). 日本医師会雑誌 74(8): 891-946 {http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/3356047}
  3. 鈴木 秋悦 (1979) 卵子の異常. 代謝 16(202): 1463-1467. {http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/1791852}
  4. 増田美加 (2017) 卵子の老化は30代からスタートし、30代後半には加速する! あなたの卵巣力は?. Mylohas 2017.08.08. {https://www.mylohas.net/2017/08/063996bodystrategy05.html}
  5. Fassbender I (2016) Enhancing autonomy in reproductive decisions?. Contemporary Japan. 28(2), 123-144. {doi:10.1515/cj-2016-0007}
  6. 西山 千恵子, 柘植 あづみ (Ed.)(2017) 文科省/高校「妊活」教材の嘘. Tokyo: Ronsosha. {isbn:978-4-8460-1626-5}
  7. Tanaka S (2018) Unscientific visual representations used for the “egg aging” campaign in 2010s Japan. (Project “Unscientific Knowledge and the Egg Aging Panic” Research Report I) (Draft) {http://tsigeto.info/18k}
  8. Baker TG (1971) Radiosensitivity of mammalian oocytes with particular reference to the human female. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 110: 746-761. {doi:10.1016/0002-9378(71)90271-7}
  9. Block E (1952) Quantitative morphological investigations of the follicular system in women: variations at different ages. Acta Anatomica 14: 108-123. {doi:10.1159/000140595}
  10. 鈴木 秋悦 (1982) ヒトの受精のタイミング. 講談社. {isbn:4-06-139478-9}
  11. 浅田 義正, 松島 美紀 (2009) 卵子の話. シオン. {isbn:9784903598116}
  12. 齊藤 英和, 白河 桃子 (2012) 妊活バイブル. 講談社. {isbn:9784062727518}
  13. 日本生殖医学会 (2013) 不妊症Q&A. <http://www.jsrm.or.jp/document/funinshou_qa.pdf>
  14. 河合 蘭 (2013) 卵子老化の真実. 文藝春秋. {isbn:978-4-16-660906-2}
  15. 厚生労働省 (2014) 妊娠と不妊について. {http://tsigeto.info/misconduct/yoshimura-2014-mhlw/} Retrieved from Youtube MHLW Channel.
  16. 主婦の友社 (2017) 赤ちゃんが欲しい 2017冬. {isbn:9784074250530}
  17. 主婦の友社 (2018) 赤ちゃんが欲しい 2018春. {isbn:9784074250608}
  18. 主婦の友社 (2018) 赤ちゃんが欲しい 2018夏. {isbn:9784074316168}
  19. 内閣府 (2015) 少子化社会対策大綱. {http://www8.cao.go.jp/shoushi/shoushika/law/taikou2.html}
  20. 文部科学省 (2015) 健康な生活を送るために. <http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/kenko/hoken/08111805.htm> as in 2015-08-22


Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) #17K02069 (2017-2019) http://tsigeto.info/egg/


Questions/comments are welcome.

Related sites and pages

[Slides PDF]

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

History of this page:

Generated 2018-08-05 21:59 +0900 with Plain2.

Copyright (c) 2018 TANAKA Sigeto