The health ministry proposed a rule change Wednesday to begin allowing public health insurance to cover sex reassignment surgery for people with gender identity disorder, or GID, from April.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare made the proposal to an advisory panel with no opposition voiced by panel members.
Still, some members suggested at the meeting, which was open to the public, that the government should require certain conditions for GID patients to make use of public insurance and conduct follow-up surveys on patients who have undergone such surgery.
Once such costly surgery is covered by public insurance, a patient will only need to pay up to 30 percent of the total surgery expenses.
In Japan, GID patients need to undergo sex reassignment surgery to alter their registered gender on official public records and public health insurance coverage for medical services is currently limited to psychotherapy.
Under the special law enacted in 2004, people with GID are allowed to change the way their gender is listed in their family registries if they fulfill several conditions, including undergoing sex reassignment operations.
According to a survey by the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology, the number of GID patients who have had treatment at medical institutions in the country totaled 22,435 by the end of 2015.