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Japanese male lawmakers simulate pregnancy in experiment with 7.3-kg jackets

House of Representatives members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Youth Division, from right, Takashi Fujiwara, Norikazu Suzuki and Takanobu Ogura, are seen with pregnancy jackets on, at the party's headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on April 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Taro Fujii)

TOKYO -- A group of three male legislators of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s Youth Division are taking part in an experiment to simulate the physical strain of late pregnancy with special weighed jackets.

    The lawmakers -- all in their 30s -- put on the jackets on April 8 as part of a two-day experiment. By feeling the weight a pregnant woman carries in the seventh month of pregnancy, the junior lawmakers hope to learn about the physical burden and inconvenience experienced by expectant mothers, and use their own experiences as reference material for formulating policy measures concerning delivery and child-rearing.

    At a briefing session held at the party headquarters in Tokyo on April 8, the three House of Representatives members -- Masanobu Ogura, 39, Norikazu Suzuki, 39, and Takashi Fujiwara, 37 -- put on the jackets each weighing about 7.3 kilograms in front of assembled reporters.

    "I was able to realize that mundane movements such as sitting and standing are this hard," Ogura commented after donning the jacket. "This weight I feel on my belly is the weight of a new life," he said.

    The three are expected to be in the "pregnancy jackets" for 24 hours until the afternoon of April 9, including during their time in bed and activities in their home prefectures. They removed the jackets, however, while attending the lower house plenary session on the afternoon of April 8, as "the Diet is a special place," according to fellow lower house member Takako Suzuki.

    Karen Makishima, head of the LDP Youth Division, who organized the trial, commented, "Even though the lawmakers might not be able to surmise the feelings of pregnant women entirely, it is essential to exercise their imagination in laying out policy measures."

    The three male lawmakers will brief party members on their experiences at a meeting after the experiment wraps up.

    (Japanese original by Minami Nomaguchi, Political News Department)

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