Twins born in Nevada to a Japanese couple through an American surrogate mother should not be registered as the Japanese children of the couple in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward, the Supreme Court ruled Friday, repealing a high court registry order.
The decision by the top court’s No. 2 petty bench finalizes Shinagawa’s rejection to register the births of the boys, now aged 3, to TV celebrity Aki Mukai and former professional wrestler Nobuhiko Takada. The children thus do not have Japanese nationality.
The ward was appealing a Tokyo High Court ruling in September that the children be registered for the sake of their welfare. The high court had acknowledged a U.S. court decision that the offspring are linked by blood to the couple and recognized them as the parents.
The issue has drawn strong public attention in Japan, where the number of children is declining, because dozens of couples are said to have secretly had babies through surrogates at clinics in Japan or abroad, because the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology prohibits its members from assisting such reproduction and under family law, the woman who gives birth is considered the mother.
When the couple tried to register the twins in January 2004, the ward did not accept the application after the Justice Ministry said Mukai could not be recognized as their mother because she was not the woman who gave birth to the twins. They then filed the family proceedings against the rejection.
Mukai and Takada chose a surrogate birth after Mukai had a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer. An American gave birth to the twins in 2003 in Nevada after having the couple’s fertilized eggs implanted.
The Tokyo Family Court rejected the couple’s complaint in November 2005, but the Tokyo High Court overturned the ruling last September in consideration of the children’s welfare, prompting Shinagawa to file an appeal with the top court.
The surrogate birth issue sparked renewed controversy again when it was learned in October that a woman in her 50s had given birth to her own grandchild at a Nagano Prefecture clinic in a host surrogacy for her daughter, whose uterus was removed due to cancer.
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