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Science, Technology, and Medicine Seminars (STMS) (1 March 2024)
Science, Technology, and Medicine Seminars (STMS) (1 March 2024)
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  • Science, Technology, and Medicine Seminars (STMS) (1 March 2024)

Science, Technology, and Medicine Seminars (STMS) (1 March 2024)

The Science, Technology and Medicine Seminar (STMS) series, hosted by the Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, promotes cutting edge cross-disciplinary research that straddles the arts, sciences, and medicine.
The aim is to provide a friendly forum to debate and test new ideas, papers, chapters, book projects and grant proposals, as well as topical issues and individual research.

If you are interested in joining the seminars, please let us know.
We welcome suggestions for future presentations and discussion topics.

For further information about STMS activities,
please contact Dr. Ria Sinha at or on 3917 9073.



Upcoming seminar:

1 March, 2024 (Friday)  |  4:00-5:30 pm  |  CPD-2.48

Title: “Is Japan Pronatalism Justified? Fear of Hinoeuma Women and Sex Selection” by Dr Shizuko Takahashi 

Abstract: Japan, having had the longest isolationist policy in the world, is averse to options, such as migration to increase the population. What kinds of pronatalist policies to increase fertility and lower the population’s age are ethical? Two questions can be raised: is it ethical for the government to intercede, and is it ethical for individuals to exercise this choice? In addition to the gradually decreasing birth rate, Japan is faced with the challenge of a possible sharp decline in the birth rate in 5 years. Astrology and superstition have influenced the sex preference of a child in Japan, and in 1966, there was a 26% drop in the birth rate. It was the year of Hinoeuma, occurring at 60-year intervals, and women born that year are believed to have a potentially dangerous ‘headstrong temperament’ and murder their husbands. Abortion rates spiked that year, and many forged the birth date of their child. The next Hinoeuma is in 2026. Although the bioethical debate about pronatalism exists in the literature, there is no literature addressing the question of sex selection in the context of a decreasing population. This paper argues that even if the Japanese government’s current pronatalist approach is ethically warranted, it should not extend to sex selection since it would promote misogyny and stereotypical gender roles.

Speaker’s Bio:  Dr Shizuko Takahashi is an Obstetrics and Gynecologist at major Medical Centers in Tokyo, Japan. She also serves as a faculty member at the Department of Biomedical Ethics, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, and as a summer faculty at the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. After earning a BA in Fine Arts and Molecular Biology from Reed College in 1997, she pursued medicine and obtained her PhD from the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Medicine, in 2010. In 2018, she was a fellow at the MacLean Center for Bioethics at the University of Chicago. Dr Takahashi’s research focuses on reproductive ethics, preimplantation genetic testing, pediatric ethics, and cross-cultural bioethics. Her work has been published in BMC Medical Ethics, Lancet, BMJ, and Genetics in Medicine.

Apart from her medical contributions, Dr Takahashi is an accomplished children’s book writer and illustrator. Her debut book, “The World Caught a Cold,” addressing COVID-19, has been translated into multiple languages and is distributed globally through the Yale library since its publication in 2020 (“The World Caught a Cold” by Shizuko Takahashi M.D.). She was awarded from the Cabinet Office for her achievements. She is currently working on a picture book on genetics starting from the embryo.