Japan’s Novel Way Of Combating Rising STIs

Photo: Dic Enterprises/REX/Shutterstock
If you don't get tested for sexually transmitted infections, an anime character will "punish" you. That's the message of a new Japanese government campaign targeted at teenage girls and young women. The country's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has enlisted the help of Sailor Moon to raise awareness of the rise of STIs like HIV and syphilis in the country, the BBC reported. The hugely popular Sailor Moon was adapted from manga comics into a TV series in the 1990s and was released overseas, including in the U.S. and Australia, with an English voiceover. The "pretty soldier", as the famous blonde heroine is known, features on fliers and condoms that are being handed out to young women at various venues around the country. The flier's threatening message – "If you don't get tested, I will punish you!" – is a modified version of Sailor Moon's usual catchphrase: "In the name of the moon, I will punish you!"

The government said
it will also distribute around 60,000 pink, heart-shaped information packs, which it hopes will help prevent and boost the early detection and treatment of STIs. STIs have spiked in Japan in recent years, with 3,284 cases recorded this October, compared with never more than a thousand in the 1990s, according to reports.
Instances of syphilis, for example, have risen dramatically in the last five years. 2,697 people had the disease in 2015 – more than four times the number of cases recorded in 2010. This reported increase in STIs is counter-intuitive, given that recent Japanese survey data has suggested an increasing number of young people remain virgins for longer. Other research has also shown a lack of interest in sex and conventional relationships among the population. The country's falling birth rate has even been called a "demographic time bomb" and data has suggested that the country's population could fall by half in 24 years. While the reasons behind this change in attitudes towards sex are many and complicated (ranging from economic factors to a change in social attitudes and the place of women in society), some blame the Japanese government and the education system for emphasising the risks of sex, such as STIs, rape, and teenage abortion, above all else. Whatever you might think of the new campaign, at least it promotes safe sex rather than no sex at all.

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