TOYAMA – To counter the nation’s ultralow birthrate, five prefectural governments are offering to subsidize fertility treatment for men, sources said, in addition to the nationwide program.
With six more prefectures considering following suit, the tally signals that local governments are taking action to deal with the problem by focusing on men as well. Often, infertility treatment has focused on women even though the problem lies with the man in half of the couples who are unable to conceive naturally.
“We want to publicize that it is not only women’s problems,” an official of one of the five prefectures said.
The central government provides subsidies to couples with an annual income of less than ¥7.3 million for “designated infertility treatments,” external fertilization or micro-fertilization treatment, that are not covered by public health insurance.
At a cost of ¥300,000 to ¥800,000, both treatments involve procedures to remove eggs from a woman. Treatment for a man is subsidized only in cases where he undergoes surgery.
In Oita Prefecture, which has already introduced its own subsidies for men, a couple can receive up to ¥100,000 per year for a maximum of five years, regardless of whether they have undergone the designated infertility treatments.
In Mie and Fukui prefectures, subsidies cover couples undergoing a designated treatment. If the man has an operation to take sperm from his testes, those prefectures provide up to ¥50,000 for each surgery.
Yamagata Prefecture plans to introduce a similar system in November, providing a maximum of ¥100,000 each time.
Kyoto Prefecture, which had the second-lowest fertility rate in the nation last year, will introduce a subsidy program in October. The estimated number of children born to a woman in the prefecture during her lifetime stood at 1.26 last year, against 1.43 nationwide.
The prefecture plans to offer up to ¥200,000 per year for male fertility treatment to residents who have lived there for at least a year.