It is easy to give up your seat on the train when you see someone who is elderly or has a clear physical disability. However, it can be difficult to tell when someone is pregnant. In order to help pregnant women get the special consideration they deserve on trains and other public places, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has created a "maternity mark", a kind of sticker or badge that pregnant women can put on their purses or key chains.
If you see a woman displaying this symbol, please refrain from smoking and treat her with special consideration, if the situation calls for it.
I think that women who are pregnant will receive some "maternity mark" goods when they receive their "Mother and Child Health Handbook", but I am not sure. Can anyone else confirm this? I know that they were handing out badges with this symbol at some train stations when they first came out (in the summer of 2006), but I don't think they are doing that anymore. Can anyone tell us where to get maternity mark goods in Tsukuba?
I think this is a good idea, in principle, but I am not sure how many women will actually display the sign when they are pregnant. It seems like an invasion of privacy, in an especially private country. It also seems kind of embarrassing to walk around with a badge that says "there is a baby in my belly". Then again, I would never wear one of those surgical masks in public, but people do it here all the time. So, I guess if women start using the sign, it will become more acceptable, and they will feel more comfortable using it.
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