The Supreme Court was asked to rule whether a father-child relationship could be legally recognized in the case where a child’s mother became pregnant through in-vitro fertilization with the frozen sperm of a deceased husband who, while he was alive, had consented to the use of the sperm even after his death. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling and declined to recognize the father-child relationship. The Supreme Court considered that the legal framework in Japan concerning parent-child relationships did not anticipate such a relationship between a father and his child who was conceived after his death in light of the fact that, even if the father-child relationship had legally been established, the deceased father would not be in a position to hold parental rights, he would not be able to support his child, and the child could not be an heir of the father for the purposes of inheritance. According to the Supreme Court, such issues need to be addressed by legislation upon analyzing several factors including bioethics, child welfare, and social acceptance. As the country lacks such legislation, the Supreme Court did not find that the father-parent relationship could be established.
2004 (Ju) No. 1748