Pills for old men or young women?

The US healthcare reform bill that recently passed the House only did so after a controversial amendment was inserted banning any insurance plan which pays for abortion from accepting any federal subsidies, a clause that will probably eliminate abortion from most or all health plans if it goes into law. One reader at TPM had the following thought experiment:

What would happen if a few female members of the House put in (or merely proposed) an amendment to the health care bill which stated that men would be barred BY LAW from purchasing health insurance which covered Viagra, all hair-growth medications or procedures or transplants, etc.?

This thought experiment reminded me of the well known case of the birth control in Japan. Actually, I say well known, but when I checked to confirm the dates, the details were rather more complex than the simplistic version of the story that I had thought I knew, in which the pill was simply never legalized in Japan until a decade ago.

The first birth control pill was approved for that use by the United States FDA in 1960, but was rarely used in Japan until recently. The pill was not approved at all in Japan until 1972, but this was the high-dose formulation that was already being replaced in other countries with a low-dose version of the drug due to safety reasons. Because the safer, low-dose pill was never approved in Japan, oral contraceptives remained little used. Even after the original high-dose formulation was removed from the market in the US in 1988, the low-dose pill remained off the market in Japan.

This changed in 1999, after Viagra was fast-tracked for approval. Viagra first went on sale in the US in March 1998, and only a few months later was already being studied for approval in Japan, where it went on sale in March 1999 – only one year after the US. Feminists complained about a double standard that allowed a drug whose primary purpose is allowing recreational sex for old men to be approved almost immediately, while the safe low-dose birth control pill was still not approved after four decades. At the time, Yoshiaki Kumamoto, president of the Japan Foundation of Sexual Health Medicine, was quoted as saying that viagra was approved so quickly because old men in parliament “want to have that drug.”

The modern pill was finally approved in September of 1999, although women taking it are required to have pelvic exams four times a year, as opposed to once or twice in most countries, and there is still a widely held association with the dangerous side effects of the old formulation. According to a late 2006 study, only 1.8% of Japanese women were using the pill for their birth control needs. This compares with, according to UN figures for the year 2005, 7.5% of women worldwide, and 15.9% of women in developed countries.

Cow madness

Over the past few weeks, Taiwan has been in a furor over a recent deal to resume the importation of  beef from the USA, which has been banned for some time due to the alleged risk of mad cow disease. Readers may remember a series of protests that gripped South Korea not long ago when their government similarly decided to life the ban on US beef. In Korea the US beef issue became a catalyst for large anti-American protests by throngs of protesters whose fundamental concerns were really far more about the macro view of the South Korea-US relationship, such as the continuing extraterritoriality of US soldiers, than about an arcane and minor, if horror-film creepy, food safety issue.

Creautzfeldt-Jakob disease, the term used for the human version of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), popularly known as mad cow disease, is a disease that lends itself to hysteria. An infection, not caused by the familiar bacterium or virii, or even a paramecium, it is produced by a truly exotic pathogen-a mutated prion, a class of protein itself unfamiliar to the layperson. The warped protein spreads throughout the nervous system, tricking healthy proteins into losing their shape, eventually causing such a complete breakdown of neural tissue that the brain is left full of small holes, like a sponge (hence the name, “spongiform”). To make it sound even more disquietingly like the contagion in one of the more science fiction themed zombie movies, neither thermal nor chemical – or even radioactive – means of sterilization have any effect on the mutant prion. Worst of all, the initial transmission vector of BSE or other variants of transmittable spongiform encephalopathy is cannibalism (as has been down since the discovery of kuru, a similar disease found among cannibals of Papau New Guinea), specifically the practice of rendering unsellable scraps of flesh, bone, and viscera left over from cow butchering into a protein sludge, which was then added to the feed of other cows on the feed lot. Even the most ardent carnivores among us reacts with visceral disgust to cannibalism, even in other species, compounded in this case by the fact that it is implemented so casually, for minor savings, so much unlike the rare cases when it is necessary for survival. Due to the disquieting nature of the disease, it is easy to see how A) people might overreact and B) how easy it might be to goad people into over-reaction for political purpose.

Taiwan’s English language Taipei Times, generally a strident partisan supporter of the Green (DPP/pro-independence) camp, carried a surprisingly non-partisan and fact-based editorial on Friday, in which they pointed out that there is in fact no appreciable risk of  catching the zombie plague from American beef.

The ferocity of politicians would be entirely justified if it were imports of UK beef we were talking about, as the UK was where the BSE epidemic was first identified and where the vast majority of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE, have been reported. The disease is a mainly British affair and the WHO says many of the cases reported in other countries were people likely exposed to the BSE agent while living in the UK during the height of the epidemic in the late 1980s.

Figures from the UK’s National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit show that at the end of last month there had been 167 deaths from vCJD in the UK, with the peak (28 cases) occurring in 2000.

In the US, to date there have been just three cases of BSE (one imported) and three deaths from vCJD, but two of these three deaths were likely cases of exposure in the UK, while the other was a recent immigrant.

Not to say that American been is entirely safe, but the danger is not mad cow disease. Just the other day a US meat company issued a recall for a huge batch of ground beef following two cases of fatal E-coli poisoning, a disturbingly common occurrence. Assuring food safety is one vital task of government in general, particularly when importing food from abroad, where standards may not be the same. But since the food safety issues here are largely fabricated (no-one has even mentioned the far more serious risk of E-coli), it is clearly about politics.

While the debate over US beef has similarly gone well beyond the realm of science into political theatre, the issue is not anti-American or Taiwan’s relationship with the United States. No, instead, as with almost every contentious issue on the island nation, it comes back to Taiwan’s hyper-partisanship, so extreme that it almost makes American political arguments look reasonable. (Well, maybe not America…)

The details are too complex and boring to get into, but the short version is that the KMT (Chinese Nationalist Party) government pushed through an unpopular accord over US beef in a attempt to curry favor for more important issues, while on the other side the opposition and pro-independence DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) is making ridiculous claims about the danger of US beef in a cynical attempt to peg the KMT as anti-democratic incompetents that are willing to trade public safety for a minor diplomatic advantage. However true such an assessment of the KMT may be overall, their opponents are being unfair in this particular case.

The beef issue has been a sticking point for US diplomats in several countries, due to the strength of the US agricultural interests that benefit from such exports, and in Taiwan specifically, eliminating the ban on US beef is widely considered to be one of several precondition for granting Taiwanese the visa-free entry status that has been rumored for a couple of years now. I also want to repeat that the idea of caving to US pressure is in and of itself not as much of an issue here as in many other countries, as both sides want stronger ties with the US in terms of trade, military, and diplomacy. However, the real issue, as always, is China. Since Ma took office the KMT led government has been promoting a series of pacts with the Communist governed People’s Republic across the strait, and the Taiwanese opposition has been far from happy, claiming (with some merit) that such pacts tend to favor China more than Taiwan, and promote economic and cultural integration that will eventually lead to political integration along the lines of Hong Kong. It is in this context that the protests over US beef must be considered.

As yesterday’s Taipei Times editorial states:

The government’s atrocious handling of the expansion of US beef imports — opaque, peremptory and confused, regardless of the merits of the products — is becoming a real cause for concern in terms of the bigger picture: cross-strait detente, and particularly a proposed economic pact with China.


One legacy of the US beef controversy is that many more people have little or no confidence in the government’s ability to negotiate with China without jeopardizing Taiwan’s interests.


Once again, this cavalier attitude toward ordinary people only raises suspicion as to how open and trustworthy any agreements between this China-friendly government and Beijing will be.

Even though the paper’s editorial board has correctly dismissed the health claims of the beef accord opponents, they are still greatly concerned about the WAY in which the accord was reached. If the pro-China KMT government is willing to negotiate behind closed doors and against public opinion with the US, why not with China? The government’s quid-pro-quo trade of US beef for progress on several outstanding issues (visa free status, progress on a larger trade accord, increased likelihood of more and better weapons systems) is therefore seen less as a capitulation to the US than an example of the KMT’s general attitude of capitulation towards China. And of course, food safety of imports from China is a far more serious problem. I’m sure everyone remembers the horrible milk-poisoning incident from last year. Well, some of those products made it into Taiwan, and although nobody was sickened, the incident spurred anti-KMT and anti-China protests. The controversy over American beef is actually more similar to those protests than to the anti-US beef protests in Korea.

Take the LDP stress test, courtesy Ichiro Kamoshita

My current lower house representative in Tokyo’s 13th district is Ichiro Kamoshita, an LDP man who is now seeking his sixth term in office in the August 30 general election. He’s also a licensed psychiatrist who’s written more than 90 self-help books.

Early polls show him facing an uphill battle against DPJ challenger as anger at LDP rule rises, but that doesn’t mean he’ll go down without a fight.

To help promote some of his policy ideas as he seeks re-election, Kamoshita has borrowed a fun idea from the Scientologist playbook: stress tests! Those who visit his website or receive one of his pamphlets can take a test entitled “Working 2.0” (働き方 2.0).

The test asks, “Is your mind stressed out?” (心のストレス、たまってませんか?). To answer, the reader must go through a list of symptoms and check all that apply. Here is the full list:

  • I feel like meetings and discussions are actually meaningless
  • I keep working hard but I remain poor as ever
  • I have at some point felt like throwing it all away
  • I sometimes feel like I want a life where I can spend all day looking at the ocean
  • I sometimes feel like I want to liquidate the past and start over from scratch
  • I can more or less predict what my life will be like in 20 years
  • I have been doing the same exact job ever since joining my company
  • I have recently stopped chatting with family and coworkers
  • I have at times felt suddenly lonely in closed-in spaces such as the subway or elevators
  • I have called someone just to hear their voice, only to hang up after the second or third ring
  • It has become painful to go back and forth between home and work
  • It makes me jealous to see the empty trains heading the opposite way during rush hour.


Here is my paraphrase translation of the results

If you checked 0-3 items: You’re the type who is good at dealing with stress. As someone with the capacity to process pent-up emotions, you realize it’s not worth it to get mad at your idiot boss. You know you can either take action or ignore it.

4-7: You need a mental detox. Just as removing toxins makes your skin look healthier, removing stress will make each day brighter and help you become better at many things. Why don’t you try and talk with friends or those around you about the things that worry you? Talking to someone will help you sort out the things that have been going back and forth in your head when you were thinking about them all by yourself.

8-10: Try and improve your lifestyle. Stress is the worst when you cannot escape it. You might need to switch jobs, take a vacation, or do something to get out of the group of people you are having problems with and break with the status quo. You might benefit from vegging out in the bathroom for 30 minutes or skipping a day of work sometime.

How did you do on the test? You can take it in Japanese here. I think I got around 4, but then the test seems designed to put everyone in that range. Who hasn’t thought about living at the beach?

Kamoshita’s plans for you

After the results, the next page is a list of labor-related policy proposals (note that at this point the reader still doesn’t know this is a political pamphlet, let alone from LDP man Kamoshita). They are:

Telecommuting – With almost 70% of workers in the services sector, it is possible for more and more people to work using technology instead of commuting to an office.

Working closer to home – Under this proposal, people would have two homes – a small room in the city close enough to their office to let them get their by bicycle, and a larger weekend house in the country where they’d rest on holidays and retire in old age. This would eliminate the issue of packed commuter trains.

More flexible working hours – By allowing flextime and diverse employment schemes such as temp work, people would be able to choose their working style while being eligible for the same social programs.

Kamoshita understands

In the final two pages Kamoshita reveals himself, tells of his own experience, and pledges to fight for the hard-working salarypersons of Japan.

You see, until age 44 Kamoshita also had to ride crowded trains to work. He even occasionally had to get off midway due to the stress (thankfully he got elected in 1993 and has probably never ridden a commuter train since).


According to the Yomiuri, Kamoshita wrote this pamphlet himself and is immensely proud of it, noting that this original pamphlet might be the first of its kind in Japan.

For a politician, maybe. But unfortunately the Japanese Scientologists have beat him to it!

Ayase to start fining smokers starting in October

In my last post about bicycle parking, I noted that the enforcers didn’t seem to be making much of an impact on illegal bike parking, except maybe at the margins (I’d be tempted to park there more often if I didn’t have a reliable space at my apt. building).

Another rule in Adachi-ku that’s only effective at the margins is the ban on smoking on the streets. In a reverse of the common American rule, in Japan smokers are often allowed to smoke in designated areas of public buildings but banned from smoking on the street. This makes for some smoky izakaya, but to me it makes sense because Japan’s narrow streets and urban lifestyle mean you are affected more by street smokers than you would be in a big American city.

Unfortunately, the bans tend to be ignored by whoever is insensitive enough to light up. They obviously know it’s against the rules but wear a “screw you” scowl on their faces and no one does anything.

One effort to combat these scowlers has been to enhance enforcement in high-traffic areas by dispatching workers who enforce the rules by collecting small fines on the spot. Adachi-ku has imposed such a ban since October 2006 starting with a 1,000 yen fine in the Kitasenju Station area. Ever since I have been in the area I have seen elderly people (volunteers I presume) asking some very surprised and incredulous smokers to pay 1,000 yen on the spot.

Similar exchanges are expected to come to my neighborhood this October as the fine is set to be expanded to include the Ayase Station area:

From Adachi-ku bicycle parking enforcers

The details of anti-smoking ordinances vary from place to place, but most appear to follow similar guidelines – ban smoking on the street everywhere (except some small smoking areas) but only enforce in areas of major foot traffic such as train stations. Many places such as Tokyo’s Chiyoda-ku post their enforcement stats online. Since beginning its policy in November 2002, Chiyoda-ku has fined a total of 42,230 people. Though I could not find figures on whether these people are actually paying the fines, if everyone has paid they have collected a total of 84.5 million yen, which adds up to something like 11.3 million yen a year.We also don’t know how many people the enforcers tried to stop but couldn’t.

For its part, Adachi-ku claims to have issued 3,498 fines in the Kitasenju area. As noted above, the preferred collection method is to demand payment on the spot. Enforcers are required to show proper ID upon request, and you are allowed to appeal if you don’t think you deserve the fine. However, there appears to be nothing the enforcers can do if you simply ignore them or refuse to take possession of the ticket.

In the initial period of enforcement, Ayase can probably expect a similar reaction that was documented when Kobe expanded its enforcement in 2007 – refusals by people who claim ignorance of the rule, people tossing out cigarettes just before entering the restricted area, and lots of people simply refusing to acknowledge the existence of the enforcers. Seeing the jerks who light up even when they know the smoke bothers everyone is one of my pet peeves, so here’s hoping our friends the elderly enforcers can get the job done.

Petition to end HIV ban

I’ve mentioned the US’s HIV travel/immigration ban before, and Andrew Sullivan reminds me that there are still two weeks left to sign the public comment petition, in advance of what will hopefully be the final stage of the repeal of this severely out-dated regulation. Surprisingly, I don’t see any wording that the petition is limited to US citizens as I would expect, so feel free to jump in and add your comments. I had to submit to an HIV text when applying for my Taiwan visa back in 2005 (I think they’ve eliminated it since then) and found it pretty invasive (obviously I was negative since I got the visa) and look forward to this restriction being lifted on would-be US residents.

Roppongi still a seething cauldron of poison

Just got this warning from the US embassy:

July 10, 2009

Warden Message – Roppongi Security Notice:  Drink Spiking

The U.S. Embassy continues to recommend that American citizens avoid frequenting bars and clubs in the Roppongi area of Tokyo due to drink-spiking incidents.

The U.S. Embassy continues to receive reliable reports of U.S. citizens being drugged in Roppongi-area bars.  Most reports indicate that the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been secretly mixed with a drug that renders the victim unconscious or stuporous for several hours, during which time large charges are fraudulently billed to the victim, sums of money are charged to the victim’s credit card, or the card is stolen.  Victims sometimes regain consciousness in the bar or club, while at other times the victim awakens on the street.  Assaults on Americans have also been reported in connection with drink-spiking.

Sign up for updates here.

Important Japan visa rule update

According to the Ministry of Justice website, starting April 1, 2010, anyone extending their Japanese visa or changing their residency status will be required to show a valid health insurance card/booklet. The relevant portions are below.


8. 社会保険に加入していること

While technically the rules have already required registration in the national health system (technically it is a duty of almost all residents, citizens included) there has not previously been any penalty for non-registration, although I hear a history of insurance non-registration it may cause problems when applying for permanent residency or citizenship. Note that although in principle residents are supposed to be registered in both the national health insurance and the pension scheme, these regulations refer only to the health system, and it does not seem that non-registration in the pension scheme will have any effect on visa renewals.

I have met an awful lot of foreign residents of Japan over the years who have never bothered to register for either public social insurance program and have never had any trouble over it, but this will not be the case in the future. Any Japan resident foreigners not registered in the national health insurance who are thinking of extending their stay past their current visa term had better look into registration ASAP.

Random gaijin mail magazine dude nails it on Japan’s media-fueled swine flu panic

(Updated below)

I don’t remember when, but at some point I became subscribed to this guy’s mail magazine “Glimpses of Japan.” I can’t remember and can’t find the full name of the author (maybe he’ll come forward!) but his name is Mike, from a picture I saw once he looks like he’s in his late 40s, and he works at NEC Learning which is a provider of what appears to be classroom technology. He’s been in the country for what seems like forever and has an interesting sort of grizzled veteran’s take on developments here, though this seems to be written with an ESL audience in mind.

More often than not, he’s griping about the traffic in Tokyo, but this week’s post was so spot-on I want to share it with you in full. Enjoy:

Media Malady


Once again I’m bemused by the pathetic state of the mass media here, particularly the TV news. The phrase “media circus” is often used to describe the antics of (especially) broadcast media when they get into frenzied over-reporting mode, but I don’t think that’s appropriate for the Japanese media’s latest hysterical outpouring of pseudo-news: if it were a circus it would at least be entertaining.

It’s bad enough that the Japanese government has decided to regard the “Novel Influenza A (H1N1)”, previously called the “swine flu”, as if it were much more serious than the rather mild, easily treatable influenza virus infection that it is. The media have been treating the “outbreak” as if it were the Black Death.

Breathless, serious-looking reporters stand in front of hospitals saying, in worried tones, things like, “this is the hospital where the 16-year-old high school student flu patient is staying”. I understand that TV news is a visual medium, and that they want to be able to show something, but a guy standing in front of a building just isn’t newsworthy, particularly when they are avoiding giving the names of the patients and the hospitals, for privacy reasons. It’s just not *news*, and serves only to make people more anxious about something barely worth worrying about.

With companies and local governments over-reacting by closing down schools, postponing events, and canceling business trips, an aura of panicked fear is being encouraged and expanded by the media’s relentless and largely content-free approach to reporting what little actual news there is. Huge signs on news sets show the number of people who have contracted the flu nationwide (not very many, actually, as a percentage of population, roughly comparable to the number of traffic accident *deaths* in Tokyo in a year), many of whom are already nearly recovered.

It can’t be making people feel more confident to see that, even with the science-fiction-like biohazard suited crews going aboard aircraft before passengers disembark, the flu still managed to spread, either.

There’s also more than a little xenophobia involved in the reporting, and in people’s responses to the influenza news.

I understand that there have been clueless, panicked, ignorant people asking local governments whether it’s safe to hang laundry out to dry and whether their pets are in danger. In the true spirit of TANSTAAFL, I also understand that many of the high school and junior high school kids who have been prevented from attending school in order to stop the spread of the flu…are taking advantage of the time off to gather in Karaoke rooms. That’s bound to be counter-productive.

Speaking of counter-productive, having the prime minister appear on TV in a kind of public service announcement, looking worried as he tells people not to be anxious and not to over-react or to believe spurious rumors…*that’s* a great way to cause people to worry *more*, not less.

I have a large capacity for being amused at the bizarre and the stunningly ridiculous, but the current exaggerated media handling of what should be a very minor issue
exceeds my ability to laugh.

I was, it’s true, cynically amused by a friend’s suggestion that the whole government/media pseudo-news frenzy/circus is a conspiracy to take the Japanese public’s mind off the terrible economic conditions and the administration’s inability to deal with them. I don’t seriously think that’s the case, but it would at least be more logical than what the truth seems to be.
Glimpses of Japan vol.240

On the surface, the overall media reaction to what could have been a serious outbreak seems fact-based and rational (with notable exceptions!). They followed every government move and reported on the infections. And basically the government did what it should have – maybe there was an over-emphasis on masks and they were a little slow to switch tactics when the virus turned out to be relatively harmless. But I have to agree with Mike and Takashi Uesugi who argue that the media completely freaked out over the swine flu. The breathlessness, the dead-serious tone, and the constant “breaking news” of every miniscule detail of the story all have combine to create an fearful atmosphere that’s truly numbing when you realize how comparatively non-threatening this flu virus really is.

That’s what leads people to believe they all need to wear masks to prevent infection, which did in fact cause well-publicized runs on the masks and opportunistic online auctioners. As Durf noted on Twitter, “The media set out to increase media importance to viewers, as usual; breathless reporting on panic-worthy stuff is the way to go!” This was the media trying to make themselves seem important through play-by-play reporting on whatever the scandal of the moment happens to be. A recent example of a how this behavior can get a little overblown was the flap over whether the kanji test guys made too much money from their massively popular product.

I don’t think the media all sat down and decided to incite panic. In fact, maintaining the status quo and helping to keep public order seems to be one of their missions that they take seriously. What’s more likely is every media outlet decided to take this threat very seriously and follow this potentially age-defining story closely, as they always do for the scandal/story de jour. Just in the case of a flu outbreak, the sum of their actions proved incredibly neurosis-inducing. As usual, whenever someone tells you “stay calm” or “don’t panic” that’s usually exactly what makes you start to panic!

On that last line about a government conspiracy to crowd the headlines with flu stories – I personally think there is something to it. The government (meaning the Aso administration, not the health officials) doesn’t have to have orchestrated the entire media response to fuel it to their advantage. And not everyone in the government is necessarily on the same page. Looking at health minister Masuzoe’s press conferences, for example, I get the impression that rather than cheaply exploit the scandal by burying other stories and panicking the public, he seeks to project an air of competence and cool-headedness (Aso’s “nobody panic” TV commercials, on the other hand, are a different story). And from a health standpoint the actions taken don’t seem too insane. I mean, the health checks and monitoring were necessary, and they didn’t do anything drastic like shut down Osaka just to help Aso’s opinion polls.

But it seemed like there was something in the public announcement that could have egged the media on. One especially dubious move was the government announcement that they specifically requested the mask companies to boost production – as if they needed to be told! Truly, it would be tragic and counterproductive if actual sick people couldn’t get their hands on masks because fearful healthy people bought them all.

What the government should be doing but isn’t doing enough of is actively calming people without screaming OK NOBODY PANIC. A good example was what Masuzoe did last week – he explained the facts about the flu without exaggeration or alarm and noted that the current status of the outbreak meant the government could tone down its response and stop in-flight inspections.

Interesting side note!!! On the asahi.com front page is this line advertising their swine flu special full coverage section: 予防にはまず手洗い “For prevention, first wash your hands”

Funny, what happened to listing masks first as the best line of defense just a week ago?! Well, since I posted my anti-mask rant (which itself attracted a decent readership in the Japanese blogosphere thanks to mozu which may inspire me to write some more in Japanese despite mozu’s warning of the “risk”) blogs and several major media outlets (Yomiuri print edition, Asahi (“don’t believe in masks too much”), and J-Cast so far as I can tell) have noted the CDC/WHO recommendations and the practices of other countries. Durf notes that at least one doctor on TV said to “ignore masks.” Unfortunately I don’t have time to document this in detail, but it is interesting to see how the message has evolved from GO GET A MASK NOW to some more rational consideration.

Most of the reaction came as a result of stories from places like the LA Times, so I think whatever impact I had was very small. But I think it was healthy that there was some signficant skepticism and pushback over the recommendations for EVERYONE to go out and get a supply of masks.

As the virus spreads to Tokyo, the call for MASKS MASKS MASKS will not end. The train operators are already campaigning for it in what seems more like a CYA maneuver than anything else. I mean these companies may be sued or publicly shamed if they don’t put forth a forthright and careful response. (Are you for preventing the flu or are you siding with the terrorists?) But at least we can remember to just consistently wash our hands and cough into our sleeves, we don’t need to succumb to this ill-informed misinformation.

Update: Somehow I missed this: the head of the health ministry’s flu response came out on May 21 to declare that it’s not necessary for people to wear masks “in outdoor areas where there is not much crowding.” And went on to explain, “Masks are intended to prevent infected people from spreading the virus. Please wear one if you have a cough.”

HIV testing for visas

In a blog post earlier Andrew Sullivan wrote that:

the US is the only developed country – and one of only a handful of undeveloped countries – that still tells the world that people with HIV are dangerous pariahs, who need policing at borders and deporting if discovered.

When I went to study abroad in Taiwan 2005-2006 they actually did require an HIV test to get a visa, as did China, who abandoned the policy with much fanfare a year or two ago. However, I never saw an announcement that Taiwan did so, but I also could not find any mention of it in the current visa application procedures. Does anyone know if Taiwan has abandoned the HIV test policy, and if so, when? I suspect that they ditched the policy around the same time China did, but did so quietly to avoid drawing any attention to the fact that they continued a system criticized as backwards and uncivilized when the PRC was doing it.