I knew Japan had an alarmingly low birth rate, and that the kinds of gender inequities women face in the workplace, particularly after getting married and/or deciding to have children, are huge.
But apparently, they're also closing maternity wards and running out of obstetricians now, too. Erika Yamauchi lives in a 17,000-person fishing town. She'll have to be choppered to a neighboring island to deliver her baby:
Yamauchi, for instance, will have to leave her family behind on this island 375 miles southwest of Tokyo when she departs to deliver her second child. Her 26-year-old husband, Yuuhi, cannot get the time off from his job as a car salesman to accompany his wife. He anguishes about missing the birth, and perhaps going a week or more before getting a glimpse of his newborn. When Yamauchi leaves, she will also be kissing goodbye to Hinase, the couple's rambunctious 16-month-old toddler.In Japan, New Pains Suffered At Childbirth [washpost]