Chikara Sakaguchi, minister of health, labor and welfare, said Monday he will try to have legislation banning surrogate child-bearing enacted quickly, after the first such birth in Japan was announced Saturday.

“A panel compiled a recommendation last year concluding that surrogate birth is by no means desirable and that it should be banned,” Sakaguchi said, speaking at a House of Councilors Budget Committee session. “We must swiftly have the legislation set up.”

He was responding to a question by Yoriko Madoka of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

The Suwa Maternity Clinic in Shimosuwa, Nagano Prefecture, announced Saturday that the surrogate mother, who is the biological mother’s younger sister, gave birth at the clinic.

Clinic director Yahiro Netsu said Saturday he performed in vitro fertilization using an egg from the surrogate mother’s sister and sperm from the sister’s husband and transplanted the embryo into the surrogate mother’s womb.

The baby is in good health, the clinic said, without disclosing its sex or other information.

Netsu said it is a doctor’s duty to fulfill patients’ wishes and the state should not interfere with their personal lives.

Netsu added, however, that he has heard the relationship between the adults involved has become strained since the birth of the child.

More than 10 Japanese babies have reportedly been born since 1991 to surrogate mothers in the United States, where the practice is legal, although some surrogate mothers and biological parents have gone to court over custody rights.

Surrogate child-bearing is banned in Germany, France and China.

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