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Does Japan have the Lowest Infant Mortality Rate Following a Ban on Mandatory Vaccinations?

Vaccines don’t affect infant mortality rates as much as you would expect, because there are many other things that kill infants besides vaccine-preventable diseases. Things like birth defects, prematurity, injuries and complications during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, that gives anti-vaccine folks lots of opportunities to misuse statistics about infant mortality rates.

Does Japan have the Lowest Infant Mortality Rate Following a Ban on Mandatory Vaccinations?

The latest propaganda about vaccines and infant mortality rates relates to Japan.

“It may come as no surprise to many that the Japanese Government banned a number of vaccines that are currently mandatory in the United States and has strict regulations in place for other Big Pharma drugs and vaccines in general.”

Jay Greenberg on Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate, Highest Life Expectancy

Most folks will understand why this is simply propaganda.

Japan never banned any vaccines.

The 2016 routine and voluntary immunization schedule in Japan.
The 2016 routine (Hib, Prevnar, hepB, DTaP, IPV, BCG, MR, Varicella, Japanese Encephalitis, DT, and HPV) and voluntary (mumps, rotavirus, hepA, meningococcal) immunization schedule in Japan.

Japan is not anti-vaccine. Although their immunization schedule is certainly a lot more complicated than ours, they give many of the same vaccines as every other developed country.

“Following a record number of children developing adverse reactions, including meningitis, loss of limbs, and even sudden death, the Japanese government banned the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine from its vaccination program, despite facing serious opposition from Big Pharma.”

Was the MMR vaccine banned in Japan?

The MMR vaccine was introduced in Japan in 1989, and four years later, the government withdrew its recommendation for the vaccine.

Why? Reports of aseptic meningitis. This was likely due to the Urabe strain of the mumps component in their MMR vaccine, which was not used in the United States.

“The data up to now have revealed low rates of aseptic meningitis and no cases of virologically proven meningitis following the use of Jeryl–Lynn and RIT 4385 strains.”

WHO on Safety of mumps vaccine strains

They didn’t ban the vaccine or vaccination though.

They returned to giving children separate measles, rubella, and mumps (optional) vaccines. Tragically, because many kids didn’t get vaccinated against mumps, the rate of aseptic meningitis from people who actually got mumps was 25 times higher than the rate from the MMR vaccine!

When comparing risks vs benefits, it clearly favored getting vaccinated.

“Due directly to these gaps in ‘herd’ immunization resulting from politicized transitions in vaccination policy by the government, there were outbreaks of rubella with 17,050 cases reported between the years of 2012 and 2014, and 45 cases of congenital rubella syndrome reported to the National Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases from week 1, 2012 to week 40, 2014.”

Yusuke Tanaka on History repeats itself in Japan: Failure to learn from rubella epidemic leads to failure to provide the HPV vaccine

The switch over also lead to outbreaks of rubella and increased cases of congenital rubella syndrome.

That’s no surprise to those who remember what happened in 1975, when routine pertussis vaccinations were halted in Japan following the deaths of two children. That eventually lead to epidemic cases of whooping cough in the country and at least 41 deaths in children (in 1979) before the vaccine was restarted.

Unfortunately, once they moved to DTaP vaccines, they started to see an increase in allergic reactions after kids got their MMR vaccine. Why? Their version of the DTaP vaccine contained poorly hydrolyzed bovine gelatin, which likely sensitized infants, who then developed an allergic reaction after getting an MMR vaccine with gelatin. While gelatin was removed from their DTaP vaccines, these extra side effects likely scared some folks in Japan.

Japan’s Vaccine Problem

Japan has more vaccine-preventable diseases than many other industrial countries.

Is it because Japan is anti-vaccine?

Of course not.

By impulsively halting and withdrawing vaccines, the Japanese government has done a good job of scaring folks though. They have also been very slow to introduce new vaccines, although they are catching up, as hepatitis, B, rotavirus, Hib, pneumococcal, meningococcal, HPV, and the chicken pox vaccine are all now available in Japan.

Have there been any benefits?


They might have lower infant mortality rates, but that has nothing to do with vaccines.

There is no correlation between the number of vaccines that a country gives and their infant mortality rate.

If infant mortality rates are linked to vaccines, how do you explain Finland?
If infant mortality rates are linked to vaccines, how do you explain Finland?

Just look at the immunization schedules in Finland, Portugal, and other countries.

What about autism?

Rates of autism have increased in Japan, just as they have in other countries. So much for the idea that the MMR vaccine is associated with autism, right?

It should be obvious now that if anti-vaccine folks did any research at all, they wouldn’t use Japan as an example when they talk about vaccines.

With higher rates of vaccine-preventable disease and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases, especially right after they impulsively halt a vaccine, Japan’s vaccine history simply demonstrates that vaccines work and that they are still very necessary.

One thing is true though. Japan’s infant mortality rate has been dropping, but then so has the infant mortality rate in almost all other countries, including the United States, which is at record low levels.

It certainly isn’t true that Japan’s infant mortality rate started to drop following a ban on mandatory vaccinations. How do we know that? Like many other countries, Japan has never had mandatory vaccinations. And not surprisingly, their infant mortality rate has continued to drop as they have added more vaccines and improved their immunization rates.

More on Vaccines and Infant Mortality Rates

24 thoughts on “Does Japan have the Lowest Infant Mortality Rate Following a Ban on Mandatory Vaccinations?”

  1. “They might have lower infant mortality rates, but that has nothing to do with vaccines.
    There is no correlation between the number of vaccines that a country gives and their infant mortality rate.”

    So, if it neither improves nor worsens infant mortality rates, what’s the point of vaccination then?

    1. If we want realistic results we would need to all have the same diet and lifestyle mixes to acheive a true factual test. The lower mortality rate may increase if the unvaccinated child were to eat the crap foods eaten in countries like USA and Australia along with many other western countries.

    2. The second sentence does not mean what you interpreted it to mean. The author meant that comparing one country to another, the number of vaccines in one country who has fewer does not necessarily mean a lower mortality rate. For another country with more vaccines, it does not mean a higher mortality rate. There is no relationship between the number of vaccines and the particular mortality rate of that country. The mortality rates differ from country to country, as do the number of vaccines, but for each list the countries wouldn’t be in the same order.

      I’m sure if you compared the infant mortality rate of any country before they started giving vaccines to babies and after, they would be tremendously higher before.

  2. Big red flags wave for me while reading this article. Considering vaccines bring a HEFTY income for Big Pharma, I would hope someone would learn who the author of this article is and if he or she has affiliations with the industry. I would also like to ask the Japanese health care monitors in Japan, themselves. I still recommend people read the insert of each dose to learn the contents of each vaccine then give it some serious thought and further research. After all, there ARE alternatives to being vaccinated. Safer and more healthy alternatives.

    1. Frances, the author is Dr. Vincent Iannelli, from Rockwall, Texas. He has been in practice for 21 plus years, and is an AAP Fellow. Otherwise known as Fellow of the American Acadamy of Pediatrics, dedicated to adocacy of children and life-long learning. I agree completely with your recommendation to read the insert ask questions, and educate oneself to the best of ability in order for a safe and comfortable choice to be made by the parent. I appreciate your suggestions and willingness to care enough to comment and voice your thoughts. My hope is others will do this and be willing to create a more open and encouraging dialogue in order to collectively solve the current issues at hand surrounding this controversy. Best wishes always to you and yours.

      1. In other words, Lisa, Dr. Iannelli is thoroughly Big-Pharma indoctrinated and rewarded. He attended a Rockefeller-funded medical school and the Rockefeller Foundation has been a long-time pharmaceutical industry investor as well as a major vaccine supplier/proponent. Unfortunately the pharmaceutical-funded medical industry is now promoting forced vaccinations and even increasing the number of mandatory vaccines in the U.S. Maybe that’s why Japan has not only the longest lifespan in the world as well as the most centenarians, as they didn’t start vaccinating them with toxins from birth. Unfortunately, you don’t seem open to the facts surrounding this discussion and only want to push vaccines on those who know better.

    2. Rick Schermerhorn

      How do we know that you are telling the truth. How do we know that you aren’t getting paid by big pharma. How many trillions of $ did Bayer make off of the 1 aspirin a day lie. & They’re buy Monsanto? Wonderful. CDC is a private corporation. Some drugs get approval because big pharma needs to make the money sooner.

    3. LMHO
      Pharmaceutical companies make less if people don’t get sick, that’s why insurance companies generally fork out for them – it saves them money

  3. I agree with Frances , who wrote this supposed factual article , with excellent grammar ” nope ” … all we read after googling or researching Japan mortality infant deaths etc is Wikipedia regurgitating the anti Wakefield memo … I’m sure this writer is funded by big pharma …

  4. Sounds biased. How do we explain ALL the parents who say their child was injured from the vacvine saying it was like a light switch after getting their child vaccinated? While the doctors say it was not the vaccine…Are we supposed to continue to eat this B.S. I live in a country where all of our water is polluted. My government said its okay to spray crops with Roundup and they tell me vaccines are safe. Pretty soon it will be a good idea to water the lawn with gator aid, you know, because it has electrolytes…

  5. Ok so basically this article just says “There see NO PROOF” without actually disproving anything, or offering any maths.

  6. The take away from the article is that there are real risks and death that can occur from vaccines which is why Japan has halted and changed their vaccine schedule so many times. They seem to be the only country who understands that vaccines are not always safe.

    1. Unbiased truth seeker

      Only country that care. In the USA Vaccine companies are protected by the government which makes me think some people in there are financially benefiting also.

  7. the idiocy in these comments ASTOUNDS me. pro-disease stupidity will never be cured until they die of something they could’ve been vaccinated for. hey, anti-vaxxers: please die faster so others aren’t at risk because of you.

    1. You sound very bright PV.
      How can the anti vaxxers spread a disease they don’t have? They aren’t magical unicorns who have all the “diseases” our government tells us to be scared of.
      Baaaaaaaaaa….bunch of blind ass sheeple

    2. There is no type of vaccine for your sickness-
      if you really care about ppl you would not talk like about other ppl -but it is all about your risk.

    1. That’s not how vaccines work
      Vaccines basically guarantee protection for most of your life but there is a slim 1% chance that they won’t work
      Trust me a 99. 9% chance of being protected by taking a vaccine is much better then the 99. 9% chance of dying from polio that you get from not vaccinating
      The more people don’t vaccinate, the more likely that 1% of getting infected will raise
      The pros far out way the con’s when it comes to vaccination
      While yes, there is an extremely slim chance of getting infected it is much better then not vaccinating and having your kid die at age 3

      1. Polio has a 5 percent chance of paralysis and of that subset 90% recover. In addition wild Polio is extremely difficult to aquire. It was eliminated from clean water and sewage removal. Not vaccines.

  8. Hillary . I totally agree with you but these people know these vaccines don’t work, hence the fear. It’s ignorance and these parents don’t even know what’s in these vaccines. You going to give you kid a shot of aluminum and formeldehyde knowingly, or perhaps 3 shots in one visit. Shame on you! Talk about irresponsible parenting.

  9. I can’t believe what some of the antivax dummies have said here. So 2 people died of the whooping cough vaccine, then more than 40 died of whooping cough in the aftermath of a vaccine avoidance panic. Makes perfect sense.

    1. By all means, pls GET FULLY VACCINATED–especially with the upcoming Covid-19 one (with the “smart dust” and DNA changing properties). You’ll do everyone a favor!

  10. By all means, pls GET FULLY VACCINATED–especially with the upcoming Covid-19 one (with the “smart dust” and DNA changing properties). You’ll do everyone a favor!

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