Japanese Perspectives on Third Party Reproduction

Yukari Semba, Visiting Researcher, Institute of Aging and Human Development,J. F. Oberlin University

In August 2010 sensationalized reports appeared in the Japanese media that Seiko Noda, a
Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, had become pregnant at age 49 using donated eggs from
another woman. The use of third party reproduction (donor insemination, IVF using donated eggs
or embryos, and surrogacy) remains highly controversial in Japan for ethical and legal reasons.
Japan has no laws regarding third party reproduction. These medical technologies are regulated
by guidelines issued by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (JSOG), but the
guidelines are not legally binding. IVF using donated eggs/embryos and surrogacy are
prohibited by the guidelines. However, many cases are known in which Japanese infertile
couples wishing to utilize these prohibited technologies have either traveled overseas for that
purpose or enlisted the help of local medical professionals willing to ignore the JSOG
guidelines. Some of such couples face difficulties when their actions later come to light. In
this presentation, Semba will give an overview of the history of third party reproduction in Japan
and present governmental and other Japanese perspectives on the use of such reproductive

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | 4:15 pm — 5:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Center for East Asian Studies