What Future for Surrogacy in Japan?

-Yasuko Shirai

National Institute of Mental Health, 1-7-3 Kohnodai, Chiba 272, JAPAN

Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter 3 (1993), 3.

In Japan American commercial surrogate matching service agencies have started their business. In last September, American lawyer Noel Kean's "ICNY" opened a Tokyo office and settled into practice in Japan. Californian lawyer William Handel's "CSP" has been preparing to establish an office also. Through these agencies, at least five babies have already been born by means of surrogate motherhood or "womb leasing" surrogacy (EEIN 2: 64).

Surrogate reproduction is a hot issue in our society, but we have no guidelines or legislation concerning this issue until very recently. On 5 November the Japan Society of Fertility and Sterility publicized their statement that they do not support the clinical practice of surrogate reproduction and they have shelved the production of any guidelines on the matter. According to their statement, they recognised serious gaps between the capability of technology and the ethical, legal, and social acceptability in Japanese society. In fact, the attitudes of the general public towards reproductive technology are quite different from those of infertile couples - especially on surrogacy. Infertile couples have more affirmative attitudes on surrogate reproduction than the general public (1). In addition to this, Shirai (1992) suggested that around five out of ten law scholars disagreed with surrogate reproduction and 70% of 46 respondents considered that some kind of legislation was necessary.

An urgent problem is to open public discussion and establish community values. These are indispensable for making a foundation for guidelines or regulations for the clinical use of new reproductive technologies in Japanese society.


1. Shirai, Y. (1991), Symposium on "A comparative law study of artificial human reproduction": Japan Comparative Law Journal 53: 61-74 (in Japanese).
Shirai, Y. (1992), presented at Third International Conference on Health Law & Ethics, Toronto, 1992.

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