Measures to Cultivate Family Life

Anthony Zimmerman
Series of articles for Jiji Tsushin
December 31, 1965
Reproduced with Permission

The large Japanese news agency Jiji Tsushin (Current Affairs) asked Fr. Zimmerman to write a monthly bulletin in English which the agency then translated and posted in Japanese. The articles appeared monthly during January-November 1965, and there is one of April, 1966. Some are now quaint and outdated, but they open a view on affairs as they looked 35 years ago.

1. JIDO TEATE (Family Allowances)

January 1965

The United Nations General Assembly, on November 20, 1959, unanimously adopted and proclaimed a Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which should be valid for every child, without exception, in the international community. Principle Number 6 reads in part:

Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of state and other assistance toward the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.

The Family Allowance bill now under consideration by the Government is one means by which this nation plans to comply with the above Declaration. It is useful to examine what other advanced nations are doing in this respect.

In France, there is no special support for the first child; for the second child the monthly support equals 3640 yen; for the third, fourth and all others, 5640 yen monthly; this is raised by 830 yen when the child reaches the age of 10. There is a birth allowance of 36,400 at the first birth, and 22,070 at subsequent births.

When there are six children in a family, the total monthly support for them equals the average monthly wage of a factory worker in France and in Belgium; the same is true in Italy when there are 8.2 children; In the Netherlands when there are 9.7 children.

It is said that the generous family allowances in European countries gradually bring about a "Family Renaissance." For example, a new spirit has taken hold in France, where family life had been decadent for decades. People stop to greet a mother of many children; she is honored on the streetcar and always gets a seat. When a baby is born, the father gets a vacation with pay (to help at home and to celebrate with his friends).

The very low birth rates of other European countries have recovered and improved to some extent. On the other hand, the birth rates did not rise spectacularly. In none of the countries mentioned is the rate as high as in America, where there are no allowances (income is generally high enough in America to support children, but recently there is a move to introduce family allowances there too.)

When family allowances are introduced in this nation, they should be generous enough at least, to make it unnecessary to have an abortion because the family is too poor. The allowances should make large families possible, and all children should have the means to receive an education which will enable them to live with proper dignity, and eventually to find a good job.


Jiji Tsushin February 1965

The time to take a business-like look at the birth control policy has come.

Three main reasons for birth control were given seventeen years ago: the nation must seek to solve unemployment; must preserve the health of weak and undernourished mothers; must balance the size of the national population with the size of its natural resources.

It appears unnecessary to continue a birth control policy in order to solve unemployment. As in Western countries, so also in Japan, the rapid growth of the labor force has been a major factor in promoting economic growth and increasing the output per worker. A continued growth of the labor force would favor Japan's economy rather than hinder it.

Nourishment has improved during the past seventeen years, so that mothers are healthy enough to bear more children. Birth control, especially abortion, probably harms health more than it helps. Besides, the prevalence of the small size family is not good for many children. They are too much over-pressured, over-protected, and pampered. The neurotic and anti-social behavior of many may be attributed to this cause.

Nor is there much realism in trying to fit Japan's population into the size of its resources. As every other modern nation, Japan must depend upon foreign trade to survive and to prosper. Whether raw materials are obtained from at home or from abroad is no longer a crucial problem now. It was 100 years ago, but the world is fast becoming one. The resources of every nation belong to the highest bidder.

Would Japan fare better with fewer people? I doubt it. With fewer people she might be a weaker competitor in world trade. In the age of mass production a nation with a small population such as New Zealand finds it increasingly difficult to compete on the world market. The nation with a large labor force and an immense industrial complex for mass production competes better internationally; it also achieves a higher level of living domestically with less difficulty.

Does the nation need more living space? People are migrating from the spacious country side to large cities because, with all the inconveniences, city life still has more advantages. The real solution is to make our city living more human and tolerable.


Jiji Tsushin, March 1965

The nation, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sato, is shifting emphasis somewhat from economic matters to social problems, It is a welcome change.

The most important factor for building a healthy society in a democratic country is the family. The nation's first and foremost duty is to protect and foster excellence in family life. To the family must be given every consideration of an economic, social, moral, and cultural nature. Planning agencies must examine their every policy in the light of Its influence for good or evil on the family. Legislators must view every bill before them in the light of its impact upon family life. Whatever favors good family life deserves promotion, other things being equal; and whatever harms families ought to be rejected or at least minimized,

The Governor of Gifu Prefecture has recently announced a policy to encourage the rearing of large families. Sociologists generally support the opinion that children receive a better preparation for life in a large family than in a small one. As Nobel Prize winner, Doctor Alexis Carrel wrote:

The only child to deprived of companionship. formative influence, and help that his potential brothers and sisters would have given him. In large families there is more cheerfulness and mutual aid than in small ones. It is probable that three children are the indispensable minimum for the harmony of the family and the survival or the race.

And famous sociologist James Bossard of Pennsylvania University observed that the large family system is the best training ground for the children of the modern world.

Statistics indicate that 89% of the adults in Japan had at least four brothers and sisters; 65% had at least six. If it was possible in the past to grow up healthily in large families, it should be possible today also. If Prime Minister Sato succeeds in creating conditions more favorable to family life, he will be remembered in history as a great benefactor of the nation.


iji Tsushin, April 1965

A group of scientists in America once experimented by replacing mother monkeys with machine mothers. Little baby monkeys huddled up to these machines, which were warm, had fur like real monkeys, gave milk from soft breasts, even had a purr from an electric motor. The babies remained smaller than those of the control group. They learned less, were slovenly; surprisingly, when grown up, they took no interest in their sexual opposites. Do human babies need mothers in this age of automation? Or should mothers be freed from household duties to work in industry?

Clinical observations were made on this subject in America, where there has been a large compendium of systematic and statistically controlled studies. All indicate that a child deprived of a loving mother, or a loving personal substitute, is apt to suffer damage to mental health; this is especially true if the child is deprived before it is three years old.

The little child needs a warm personal relationship, in which it finds joy, satisfaction, and personal response. Only thus can it develop that strength of personality, that confidence, which enables it to overcome the disruptive influences of anxiety and guilt.

The absence of such a relationship, especially during the first three years, leads to anxiety, excessive demands for love, hostility against those who fail to provide this love; this hostility gives rise to guilt and depression. In later years this can lead to disorganization of personality and breakdown. This is called the syndrome of maternal deprivation. It occurs frequently, and has widespread influence.

If instead of a mother, the child has another person who is loving and well known, the symptoms are less severe; even a loving stranger can modify the severity of the syndrome. But even a short term stay in a large and understaffed institution apparently traumatizes infants under three years for life.

This nation must do something to influence mothers to stay home and mother their young children. It is hoped that the new Child Allowance Law will provide more help to families whose mothers remain at home, than to those mothers who are employed outside of the home more than 20 hours per week.


Jiji Tsushin, May 1965

Not enough babies are born every year in Japan to replace their parents after they grow up to be the sane age as their parents at present. The last available not reproduction rate statistic is 0.89, meaning that the next generation of parents will be only 89% as large as the present if the trend continues. But in Tokyo, where the nation's elite are supposed to be gathered, the rate is as low as 0.80. And in Kyoto 0.74; in Kobe 0.81; in Nagoya, 0.87. Birth control has become a funeral agency of the nation's prime population.

At the recent meeting of the Nihon Jinko Gakkai (Japan Association of Demographers), it was pointed out that Japan's population would dwindle to half of the present in 240 years if the trend does not improve. Voices were heard that the Yu Sei Hogo Ho (Eugenic Protection Law) must be amended to preserve the national welfare. The Japan Family Planning Association has gone on record an being opposed to sale of contraceptive pills because it would lower the birth rate still further, whereas it is already the lowest intrinsic rate the world. It stated that the Government might soon have to so something to encourage parents to have more children.

Religious leaders point out that family life morality is deteriorating in the nation, and that the Yu Sei Hogo Ho [which legalizes abortion] is at least partly to blame.

But sociologists point out that a mere change of law is not enough. There must be more room for babies in the houses, more income to support their education. Parents must be re-educated to welcome babies again. Some mothers abort babies because they fear the pains of giving birth; many don't want a family so that they can be more free.

But Japan is a young and healthy nation. She is probably not yet ready to begin to disappear from the face of the earth because of family immorality, like Greece and Rome did. Only it will take good leadership and courage to reverse the present trend.

Confucius considered a large and increasing population to be a sign of national prosperity and of a government's high competence. He believed that a government should encourage immigration to further increase the national population which is the greatest wealth of the nation. The teaching should not be forgotten. (For more on this, see Zimmerman Kajo Jinko to Catolicism, Shunjusha, (Zimmerman, Overpopulation and Catholicism, publisher Shunjusha.)

[Addition, August 2000: Perhaps the Japan Family Planning Association opposed the birth control pill for an additional reason which they did not state publicly. Namely, a considerable part of their income came from sales of condoms. If the Pill had been approved, part of their income might have been lost to pharmaceutical companies.]


Jiji Tsushin June 1965

In former times respect for elders was based not only on good moral teachings, but also on solid financial foundations. The elders retained the deed to property, and the property was passed on to the children only if they proved worthy. The younger generation lost financial assets if they disrespected their elders.

Nowadays the younger generation does not depend a great deal on the older in regard to property and wealth. The old folks may live in rooms rented from their children, on pensions or security funds which are barely enough. The young ones feel them to be a burden; perhaps hope that they depart from this world soon.

What effects does the situation have upon Japanese society as a whole? It certainly weakens the forces of conservatism and of tradition. Many welcome this, because they say that the nation must change. Others say that the change is too fast. For example, the present children have no grandparents to imbue them with traditional Japanese feeling; and they hardly see their own parents, who are out working so much of the time. So the children grow up on television shows in the home. Many of them are foreign shows - with shooting, fighting, marrying and living happy ever after. Will the next generation in Japan be Japanese, or foreign? Their education will be a deciding factor.

The extended family system, where several generations lived on the same compound, often with relatives, used to preserve traditions strongly, and inculcate a respect for elders. But the system was rooted in the economic system of land ownership, or cottage industries. I wonder whether it would not be wise to continue the system on a limited basis through ownership of apartment living quarters by the head of an extended family. This is quite common in Europe and America.

The older folks own the rooms of the apartment in which the extended family lives. But they do not live together. They live in different rooms of the same f1oor connected by corridors; or on different floors of the same wing, connected by stairs. Not all think this is good, but many do. Perhaps the Government should make it possible for extended families to purchase apartments on the monthly instalment payment plan, extending over 10-30 years.


Jiji Tsushin July 22, 1965

Many are saying that the method of birth control called RHYTHM, or periodic abstinence, is not reliable. They speak of the "RHYTHM BABIES" or unplanned babies who were born when parents were trying the system. Maybe the real trouble, in most cases, is that couples read a "do it yourself" article or book, and so think right away that they are experts. Soon they learn they are only amateurs.

One English doctor complained that few medics really know the system well. All they learn in medical school is that the system doesn't work. So they never study it seriously, nor give guidance to clients who were trying to follow it. One doctor in Tokyo inquired among women who were trying the Rhythm system to explain just what they did. About one out of three understood the system well, he reported; about one out of three know it more or less well; and about one out of three was using exactly the wrong times! And when they fail, they blame the method!

Actually, the Ogino calendar system is reported to be 95% reliable among women who are regular. This includes about 70% of the women. The basal temperature method is still more reliable. Dr. John Marshal of England has reported that in over 5000 cycles not one single pregnancy has occurred when women followed this method, and confined relations to the 10-14 days between the time of ovulation and the next menstruation. Another reported that there was but one pregnancy in 100 woman years among followers of this method. There are many clinics in America, Europe, Canada, where guidance in RHYTHM is given. They report good success if couples are highly motivated and if they take the trouble to learn the system well and to follow it faithfully.

Two years ago several doctor teams went to the island of Mauritius to teach the rhythm system. They had surprising success. Many couples who had been using contraceptives were grateful to learn the method, they said. The use of contraceptives had made their married life seem "dirty;" many women said they feel that the husband treats them more as a "thing" then a wife when they used contraceptives. This had been causing marital difficulties. When using rhythm they felt that love was restored, as though they were married anew.

Perhaps couples in this nation should pay more attention to the lessons learned abroad about Rhythm. Perhaps Government Health Centers should give guidance in this method only, and leave guidance in contraception to private agencies.


Jiji Tsushin August 1965

There are many reasons for the Sunday rest, which became legal in the Roman Empire over 1600 years ago. It should be the day on which individuals stop being parts of an economic machine, and can live their own lives. It should be a day on which the family lives together, in the house, on a trip, at some entertainment, or even at a hobby. It should be a day on which people pursue culture more intensely. There should be leisure to read, to embroider, to paint, play games, visit with others. Finally, it should be a day on which one can commune with God, reading the bible, attending some religious ceremony and praying. Individuals and families find strength and happiness when they find themselves in God, and understand themselves from God's viewpoint.

In Western countries, families are accustomed to attend Church together on Sunday for about an hour. And at home they may do bible reading or other inspirational reading together on that day, and make the family prayers a bit longer than usual. In many places there are radio and television programs specially prepared to inspire the audience in matters of religion or morality on Sundays. And there are Church services on television so that persons can attend even in their homes. Even some Buddhist parishes in America have started regular Sunday services for their people, and they attend quite regularly.

In order to make the Sunday more meaningful in this nation, it might be good to have special inspirational programs, for example, on NHK. Many in the nation read the bible, so there could be explanation of the meaning of the bible, or dramas from bible stories. Religious leaders of various sects could present teaching or dramas from their own religious writings, which are of such a nature that all listeners, also those of other religions draw good lessons, wisdom, and inspiration so that individual, families. and the nation would improve culturally and morally.


Jiji Tsushin, Sept. 1965

It is believed that one third of the 2,000,000 more or less abortions each year in this country, are performed on unmarried girls and women. Sex play is increasing recently, and children are starting younger.

The reasons are complicated. Many point correctly to the bad influence of movies, foreign and domestic, and many say that the Yusei Hogo-ho is at fault, and should be amended. They, too, are correct. If parents take sexual liberties with each other, the children are apt to follow suit even before they are married. And the Yu Sei Hogo Ho influences parents in a bad way. Finally there is much trash on the reading stand.

Control of the sex appetite is immensely important for the development of strong character in young persons. The young man who masters himself in this, with much effort and practice, and with new determination after a fall, develops strong will power. He frees himself to a remarkable extent from the strong pull of his lower instincts and of changing emotions to such an extent that he gains great confidence and respect in regard to his inner powers of self-determination. It is probable that he will be a better father, a better person, and a more reliable worker or business man than one who does not take the trouble to control himself. He has learned to fight his way through difficulties; he is honest with himself, exact with others.

The woman who refuses to sell her body cheaply to a fly-by-night, lover, who says a resolute NO to one who tries to entice her unlawfully becomes master of her own destiny to a remarkable degree. She seeks depth of character in the other, noble faithfulness, personal regard rather than a superficial lover. She tries to be a woman of personal integrity rather than one who seeks pleasure and popularity.

The leaders of our nation owe it to our youth to see to it that the practice of chastity is given higher regard in the mass communications and in the formulation of national laws.


Jiji Tsushin, October 1965

Various serious difficulties beset this nation which can only be solved through Government action and help. But families are not influencing the Government directly to a great extent. Other organizations are powerful: labor unions, manager unions, teachers unions, the medical associations, nurse associations, etc. etc. But families have no union through which to influence the Government and bargain with the public.

Grievances are many: houses are too small; couples must leave apartments if they have more than one or two babies; family allowances and birth allowances are generous in other countries, but behind the times in Japan; working hours are long, so that leisurely and enjoyable family life is next to impossible. Often the house is too noisy, whether because not insulated from the neighbors or because of traffic outside. But who hears about these difficulties, except the neighbors? It makes little difference during elections.

There are influential family organizations in some of the European countries. The Flemish League of Large and Young Families has a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 270,000, a membership of 410,000 families, representing some 2,000,000 persons. It has won the fight for family allowances 30 years ago; it has obtained a 50% reduction for parents and children on the Belgian National Railways when there are four children. There are special privileges for large families in regard to loans for houses; also a study fund for poor but deserving students, etc. The League provides many services to its member families.

The Italian "Family Front" and the "Association of Large Families" aim to affect legislation favorable to families, and to provide various services. There ought to be some sort of organization in Japan so that the voice of families can be heard, and that they can be effective during elections.


Jiji Tsushin November 1965

In all developed countries of the world it has become standard practice that school children do little work for pay, and adults do little school work. Is this necessarily the most ideal system for our age of automation?

During the past century formal schooling has spread among the masses, instead of being the privilege of the elite. Secondary and higher education are following the same trend. The masses are old enough to marry when they leave school, but have had little experience in the world of work.

A certain percentage of our youth is ill suited for the long drawn but pursuit of academic sciences, but is forcibly imprisoned in the national school pattern nevertheless. Some of them lose all interest in a society which makes too high demands upon them, and become "beatniks"; some join gangs to kill boredom; many become indiscriminately hostile to society and swell the ranks of juvenile criminals. A phenomenal rise of juvenile crime is common to all developed countries.

The school student is a consumer, not a producer; he is forever receiving, never giving. After graduation his role suddenly changes from "all receiving" to "all giving". We see the miracle of an immature and seemingly irresponsible youth taking his place with pride in a society in which he can contribute. Perhaps the passive role of the student for so many years demoralizes character. We all know that it is just the people for whom we do the most who appreciate it the least. Maybe students would show more maturity and responsibility if we would allow them to contribute more, to be less dependent; maybe part time gainful employment and part time school should be made a more standard practice.

On the other hand, adults would gain much if school doors would open for them more widely. Our world is changing so fast that it would be good to go back to school to catch up with it at intervals. Perhaps we would now like to study mathematics or electronics to get a better job. Perhaps our capacities and interests have increased so that we yearn to learn about the atom, or the stars, or the crust of the earth, history, literature, painting. A sabbatical year, fully or half free from work, with time to go back to school while the pay check arrives as usual, would be just the thing we need to re-condition us for life in our changing world. Such may be the trend of the future.


Jiji Tsushin, April 1966

A shocking revelation was made in a recent survey, namely that 60.4% of the mothers of four children who were practicing birth control, had experienced at least one abortion. And that 23.8% of those who had complained that "Chuzetsu shijutsu wo shita tame ni, shin tai no guai ga warui to omou koto ga aru." In other words, a high percentage of mothers in Japan who have born four children have also experienced abortion, and suffered bad effects in health.

We can imagine that mothers of four children resort to abortion not so much from lack of a sense of responsibility; it is quite clear that they love their children, and would bear more if only the circumstances would permit. But lack of proper housing, lack of income sufficient for the proper education of more children, and the pressure of public opinion against large families, induces them to resort to the sad practice of aborting subsequent offspring. One out of four suffers in health as a result.

Children from families of four or more are subjected to ridicule in school. Often they have to give up ideas of going to a university because there is no money. By contrast, in America the number of large families is increasing; there are 3,130,000 families with five children or more, and the vast majority of the parents are considered "responsible" parents. Recent legislation makes it possible for practically every single deserving child to get sufficient help for a university education from Government and private resources. "Quality citizens, with God's help, from large families" is the motto of a growing organization called "LARGE FAMILIES OF AMERICA INCORPORATED."

In West Germany, large families get special concessions from the Government for housing and education. There is a monthly allowance of 70 Marks (6,300 yen) for each child after the fourth. And in some cities, the mayor becomes the patron of every child above number three in a family, and the city bears all expenses. Large families get up to 1000 marks for a summer vacation (90,000 yen).

The time is ripe for Japan to do more for its young citizens who happen to be members of large families. If this be done, mothers will not be forced by circumstances to resort to abortions which may ruin their health.

[Addition, August 2000: Unfortunately the USA government policy changed around 1965 to unfavorable tax laws for families, with predictable results. The anti-population fixation bewitched America from about that time and from there polluted the rest of God's beautiful world.]