Japan Sex Education
Sex education, which begins in the third grade, has run into difficulties with parents who have protested the use of graphic material, the education ministry reported. Many conservative parents also argue that displaying condoms and other contraceptives in class is against Asian values and could promote early sexual activity.
Surveys indicate that Japanese girls now begin to menstruate at ages 10-12, at least two years earlier than their mothers. Of third-year high school students, 30 percent report they have experienced sex at least once, compared to two decades ago when sexual debut was most often at age 20.
In 2002, almost 50,000 abortions were recorded among Japanese age 20 and below, compared to 27,838 in 1994. Youths ages 10-19 comprised 29.8 percent of new chlamydia cases reported in 2002.
While intercourse can only be discussed in high school, 70 percent of primary students are already aware of the topic, according to research by Dr. Masako Kihara, a teacher at Kyoto University and pioneer of Japanese sex education. She recommends conducting periodic school surveys to assess students’ interest in sexual activity before developing a basic curriculum. A school nurse or counselor can then work with individual children to teach them based on their needs, she said.