Washington International Law Journal


Trisha A. Wolf


Beyond a recommendation from the Japanese Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology to not work with patients who want to engage in surrogacy contracts, no legal framework exists for regulating surrogacy in Japan. Because of this recommendation, as of December 2013, only one doctor in the entire country will work with families using surrogates. Therefore, Japanese families often travel abroad to use surrogates, generally to the United States, India, or Thailand. Surrogacy tourism creates a number of problems. Babies born to surrogates have been considered stateless because neither the surrogate’s country nor Japan recognizes them as citizens. Furthermore, Japan’s complex family registry system makes it difficult to adopt children. Finally, surrogates in India are often very poor women forced to live in abject conditions during their pregnancies. Because recently passed regulations in India may prevent Japanese couples from entering into surrogacy agreements there, the Japanese government should get serious about establishing a legal framework for surrogacy, potentially using Israel’s system as a model, in order to ensure that Japanese women have a safe and regulated way of engaging in surrogacy.

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