Most major media covered the March 22 Tokyo news conference where Sachiko Kishimoto of the nonprofit organization Oocyte Donation Network (OD-Net) explained how a woman in her 40s had recently given birth to a daughter who had been conceived using the woman’s husband’s sperm and an egg from a third party. Though there have been instances in Japan of women giving birth by using the eggs of friends or relatives, this was the first publicized case in Japan of a baby successfully coming to term with the help of an anonymous egg donor.
The purpose of the news conference was more than just to announce a first in the annals of Japanese medicine. As Kishimoto pointed out, there are no laws governing infertility treatments using donated eggs from third parties, and while the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology deems the practice ethically unacceptable, some doctors nevertheless carry out these treatments. Kishimoto called on the government to legalize and regulate such therapy, as well as address the kind of parent-child relationships that will result from them. Without legal guidelines, women who desire this kind of treatment may be discouraged from seeking it.