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The Justice Ministry will not accept the birth notification documents for a Japanese couple’s twin boys born to an American surrogate mother in the United States last fall, officials said Friday.

The couple, who tried to register the births with the Japanese Consulate General in San Francisco soon after the babies were born in October 2002, were informed of the ministry’s decision via the Foreign Ministry early Friday, a Justice Ministry official said.

The boys, listed as U.S. citizens, were born in California last fall and have been living with the Japanese couple in the Kansai region since April.

The registration of the boys’ birth was put on hold for about one year while the government tried to confirm the parent-child relationship between the woman and the babies.

This was based on guidelines issued by the Justice Ministry in 1961, stipulating that births registered with women aged 50 or older had to be confirmed.

The couple, a 55-year-old woman and her 53-year-old husband, tried several fertility treatments to no avail, and sought the aid of a California firm dealing in surrogate births in 2000.

The twins were born using eggs from an Asian-American woman and the husband’s sperm. The fertilized egg was implanted in the womb of another American woman.

During Friday’s news conference, Justice Ministry officials said that it notified the Foreign Ministry on Thursday that it could not accept the boys’ birth registration, because it confirmed that the babies were not born to the Japanese woman.

The consul general then told the couple that he could not accept the registration early Friday, the officials said.

In justifying their decision, the ministry officials referred to a 1962 Supreme Court ruling that a parent-child relationship between a baby and mother must, in principle, be established by the fact of actual delivery.

The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology bans surrogate births in Japan. There have reportedly been more than 50 Japanese couples who have sought children through surrogate births overseas, but ministry officials said they have no plans to look into these past cases.

The case of the Kansai couple came to light because the woman was over 50. The ministry said it has no plans to abandon its controversial guideline requiring the confirmation of births by women over that age.

Officials said the ministry will instead move to examine all birth notification documents more carefully from now on.

One way for the twins to acquire Japanese citizenship would be for the couple to adopt them, they added.

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