NHK has learned of plans to launch Japan's first sperm bank to help couples with fertility problems conceive.
Doctors from Dokkyo Medical University are launching the project in Saitama Prefecture to counter a shortage of sperm donors. They plan to open the sperm bank and start seeking donors in June.
Artificial insemination with donated sperm, known as AID, is currently staged in Japan at medical facilities registered with the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The treatment typically targets couples unable to conceive due to issues relating to men's sperm. About 3,400 AIDs were staged at registered facility in Japan in 2018, resulting in 130 births.
However, at least six of the nation's 12 registered medical facilities have stopped accepting patients in recent years, due to a decline in donors.
The move has prompted some people to buy sperm directly from individuals found through means such as social media.
Dokkyo Medical University's Professor Okada Hiroshi, who is leading the project, said such transactions pose numerous problems, including the inability to test sperm for infectious diseases.
Okada's group plans to limit donors to domestic medical workers aged 20 to 40, who have an understanding of AID procedures.
The donated samples will be tested for infections and only sperm that is highly likely to result in a pregnancy will be sent to medical institutions.
The group plans to allow donors to choose whether to provide their personal information to the recipients. However, it will also consider the right of children born through its procedures to know the identity of their biological fathers.
The group aims to provide 500 sperm samples to medical institutions per year.