Amid a flood of biased information about sex, an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases and increases in sex crimes, the Japan Society of Adolescentology is tackling the problem of teenage sex and how to protect their health.
In a survey about the sexual behavior of young people conducted by the Japanese Association for Sex Education since 1974, Kazuo Katase, a professor at Tohoku Gakuin University, said, "Since the 1990s, girls have been more sexually active, narrowing the gap between men and women."
"This is chiefly because of social influences such as the popularization of the Internet and mobile phones," he said at a recent meeting of the society at Jikei University in Tokyo.
The association has been conducting surveys of 5,000 junior and senior high school and university students across the country every six years, and the most recent survey was conducted in 2005.
The rate of sexual experiences among senior high school and university students has increased from 1974 to 1999, with the rate among boys higher than among girls. But the rate among male university students, which stood at 63% in 1999, declined to 61% in 2005, and the rate among male senior high school students was 27% in both years.
On the other hand, the rate among female university students went up from 51% in 1999 to 61 percent in 2005, and among female senior high school students from 24% to 30%.
The 2005 survey also found that the increased use of cell phone emails has led to more sexual activity.
Yukihiro Murase, a lecturer at Hitotsubashi University, said, "The pattern that boys are active and girls are passive in sexual behavior remains unchanged. The importance is the changes in the consciousness of boys, who are likely to get biased information about sex from adult videos and other sources."
Shoichi Onodera, a professor at Jikei University, reported on the conditions of sexually transmitted diseases and said, "There are many asymptomatic people who do not visit medical institutions."
In a survey of about 5,000 senior high school students, 13% of girls and 7% of boys were infected with asymptomatic Chlamydia.
According to a survey by a research team at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were requests such as "I want to check at home," "I don't want my parents to know" and "I want a consultation by mobile phone."
Onodera said, "It is necessary to have medical institutions in each area that young people can easily visit for checkups, and a contact point, where they can consult about checkup methods, including consultations by email."
Meanwhile, the abortion rate among teenagers appears to be decreasing. Since the peak year of 1955, when there were about 1.17 million cases of abortion domestically, abortion has been decreasing.
But abortion among teenagers began to increase sharply in the mid-1990s. In 1995, the rate of abortion among girls aged 15 to 19 was 6.2 per 1,000, but it more than doubled to 13.0 in 2001. However, since 2002 the rate has been decreasing and was 9.6 in 2005.
Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association Clinic, and others carried out a survey of about 800 obstetrics and gynecological facilities across the country in January this year, and 72% of them replied that the rate of abortion has decreased among women under 20 years old.
The decrease was attributed to the popularization of emergency contraception, popularly known as the morning-after pill which can be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse to avoid pregnancy, and the "effects of sex education."
Kitamura said, "To decrease the rate of overall abortion not limited to teenagers, the popularization of low-dose birth control pills, or oral contraceptives, and emergency contraception is necessary." (Kyodo News)