The Justice Ministry will not accept an application from TV personality Aki Mukai and her husband to register their twin babies born to an American surrogate mother as their sons, ministry officials said Tuesday.

“The government cannot recognize (Mukai) as their mother,” an official said. “In Japan, the woman who gave birth to the babies is defined as their mother.”

The official said the government would grant the babies Japanese citizenship if Mukai and her husband formally adopt the babies.

The ministry has requested that the couple submit documents on the background of the boys’ births, the officials said.

The boys were born in late November in the United States.

It was the third in vitro fertilization attempt by Mukai, 39, who had her womb removed in 2000 due to cancer while she was pregnant, following two failed attempts in the United States.

Embryos created through in vitro fertilization using Mukai’s eggs and her husband’s sperm were implanted in the surrogate mother’s womb, the managing office of the couple said earlier.

The couple submitted the application to the municipal government of Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward in January, along with a document of a U.S. court ruling certifying the couple as the babies’ parents.

The municipal government has consulted with the ministry on how to handle the application.

The Justice Ministry earlier rejected an application by a Japanese couple in their 50s to register the births of twin baby boys born to an American surrogate mother in the United States.

A health ministry panel in April compiled a report banning surrogate birth and mediating in it, but it allows sperm and egg donation from third parties.