Urayasu to be Japan’s first municipality to subsidize freezing women’s eggs

JIJI, Kyodo

Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, is set to become the first municipality in the country to effectively subsidize women who have their eggs frozen for use to get pregnant in later years.

The city said Monday it will provide Juntendo University’s Urayasu Hospital with ¥90 million over the next three years to promote research on technologies to freeze and store eggs.

Thanks to the subsidies, out-of-pocket expenses for female residents of the city who use the procedures will be limited to around 30 percent of the total, Urayasu officials said.

The city included ¥30 million in such subsidies in a draft supplementary budget for the fiscal year ending in March.

“This project is worth undertaking as it could lead to a clinical study of whether (such subsidies) really contribute to curbing the declining birthrate,” said Koyo Yoshida, director of Urayasu Hospital.

On concerns that the subsidies could lead to women delaying their decision to give birth even longer, he said he hopes more women will become aware of the limited time they have to give birth.

Urayasu Mayor Hideki Matsuzaki stressed that this is part of the city’s measures to boost the birthrate.

“We need to create a society in which younger generations can give birth and raise children without worries,” he said.

The municipal government will fork out ¥20 million of the ¥30 million through its money that has been dedicated to measures on tackling the birthrate decline. The city has asked the central government to subsidize the remaining ¥10 million with funds allocated for local revitalization.

The hospital will open a special facility April 1 for collecting eggs and freezing them for storage. Eligible women will be roughly between 20 and 34 at the time of egg collection who plan to use their eggs by age 45 in principle and attend lectures on egg freezing and storage. The collected eggs will be under periodic observations.

Since public medical insurance doesn’t cover egg-freezing or storage, those who use the procedures need to pay in full. The total usually exceeds ¥1 million if the eggs are stored for 10 years or so.

The hospital will charge only around 30 percent because it will receive the subsidies from the city.

The aging of eggs is considered a major reason for infertility among women. After women reach their late 30s, pregnancy rates drop markedly and the risk of miscarriage increases.