pp. 194-196 in Human Genome Research and Society
Proceedings of the Second International Bioethics Seminar in Fukui, 20-21 March, 1992.

Editors: Norio Fujiki, M.D. & Darryl R.J. Macer, Ph.D.

Copyright 1992, Eubios Ethics Institute All commercial rights reserved. The copyrights for the employees of the US Government, are subject to other copyright arrangements. This publication may be reproduced for limited educational or academic use, however please enquire with Eubios Ethics Institute.

Scientific responsibility

Michio Okamoto,

Director, International Institute for Advanced Studies, Kyoto, JAPAN

I have the honour to chair the lecture of two distinguished scientists. The title of this session is responsibility of the scientist. As was discussed before, there is a broad and narrow definition of science.

When we discuss science here maybe the framework is the Western framework. At the same time, in recent times science is often discussed in the context of science and technology. Therefore the responsibility of scientists is discussed in terms of the responsibility of science and technology. When it comes to the issue of ethics, the ethics of scientific technology is discussed. Here you see there is some ambiguity which can cause confusion. We need to make the different definitions clear.

When discussing about the responsibility of scientists I am not competent enough from the standpoint of my speciality. I was Professor of Anatomy in Kyoto University Medical School, and then president of Kyoto University and am Director of the International Institute for Advanced Studies. After resignation from Kyoto University, I have served for the past ten years as a senior member of the National Council for Science and Technology, the supreme advisory body to the Prime Minister in science and technology policy. One of the roles of the Council was to provide guidelines in proper time to promote science and technology in Japan. In this way, we have made much effort for only the advancement of science and technology to become a world superpower of science and technology.

Toward the beginning of the periods of my membership of the council, I have had the opportunity to participate in a symposium on organ transplantation. In those days the issues such as brain death and organ transplantation became very evident, and people began to become aware of the severity of the issues. In the symposium the transplantation of many organs was discussed, even brain transplantation may one day be possible. I became very seriously worried about the future prospects, and whether we can leave science and technology to progress in its own right.

Fortunately then Prime Minister Nakasone proposed the International Conference on "Life Science and Mankind", which was cited by Prof. Aoki previously. In the conference much discussion was focussed on the importance of the harmony between science and technology and mankind. We have to pay a lot of respect to human well being when we try to promote science and technology.

The Council for Science and Technology has the duty to make the guidelines for science and technology policy. Up until those days, we had been trying to promote science and technology according to the six guidelines of science and technology which put emphasis upon the promotion of science and technology with little attention for the harmony between science and technology and humanity.

According to the discussions and the conclusion of the Conference and my serious concern for the future of mankind in medicine, some new guidelines of science and technology policy were elaborated to cope with the happiness of humanity. This was the eleventh guideline which has emphasis on the harmony between science and technology and humanity. This guideline implies three principles for the promotion of science and technology in Japan. The first is to promote basic research. The second is to promote science and technology in good harmony between science and technology and humanity. The third is the international contribution through science and technology. The new and unique feature of the guideline is to pay special attention to human well-being, and the environmental destruction of this planet.

During the period of my membership of the council I chaired the National Council for Educational Reform, the first large scale council under the auspices of the Prime Minister after the war. The target of this initiative was the recognition that there were a lot of deteriorated parts of the educational system in Japan.

Much violence occurred in and out of the school. Abuse was the focus of much discussion in the field of education or primary and secondary schools. This deterioration, however, was not a unique issue to the educational field, but it was also recognised in other fields such as in the economy, politics and even religion. Furthermore, the tendency of deterioration was not only in Japan, but it was also recognised in all highly industrialised countries. Considering these circumstances, I have paid special attention to the side effects of modern science and technology civilisation as the cause of this kind of deterioration of the present world.

The education in schools in Japan has been concentrated in the promotion of scientific knowledge rather than the human training in order to cope with the promotion of science and technology. Some people thought that the economy in Japan was right and successful, but that was only a complacent idea, everywhere in Japan we can find devastating situations. Not only in Japan, but in every advanced nation.

Therefore, if such devastation is common to all the advanced nations in modern times, we have to recognise it as a main side effect of modern science and technology. Modern science and technology civilisation might be the source of this corruption and devastation of the modern world. We have to reflect on the side effects of modern civilisation in education. Here we see the responsibility of scientists.

In the spring of last year, we had the 23rd General Assembly of the Japanese Medical Association. On this occasion we could have a congress to talk about the recent tendencies of our medical fields. Medicine was dedicated to the pursuit of sophistication of science, fully reflecting the advancement of science and technology.

The science was introduced directly into technology. This means that medical science was transformed into medical treatment, and we can ask whether medicine itself can just exist as a transformation from technology?

The point is that we all shared common concern about the future prospects of science and technology, or scientific technology, for the future, can we just leave it as it is as it moves on? In all aspects of society, like culture, economy and politics, all those parts of society are supported by science and technology. Actually the infrastructure is the advancement of science and technology, which is giving impetus for the advancement of education, culture, and human well being. Therefore the scientists assume a very basic responsibility for the society itself. While sharing that recognition we would like to proceed with the discussion, while recognising the responsibility of scientists.

We have invited two distinguished guests to address this session. The first speaker is Prof. Mˇlan¨on from Canada. He is a specialist in bioethics. Today we expect a general view on bioethics and genetics from him, and reference to the Universal Movement for Scientific Responsibility (MURS) which is becoming internationally widespread. He is the vice president of the MURS branch in Canada, in Quebec. The head of this movement is Prof. Dausset, a Nobel laureate. Prof. Mˇlan¨on has brought a message from Prof. Dausset who unfortunately could not join us due to family illness.

The second speaker is Prof. Gajdusek who is a Nobel laureate. He is a wonderful person, he is in the NIH as a scientist and is the boss of the largest unit of the NIH, the National Institute of Neurological Disease Study. He used to go to a very remote area and as a scientist he studied very strange local diseases, like Kuru disease, in those remote areas. What surprised us so much is that when he returned he adopted children. He has adopted more than 70 of these children. He is not only taking care of them, but he spent all his money and all these children share his assets. They are treated as members of his family. Therefore he is very unusual, and he is also an expert in diseases of a special kind. We are very fortunate that even with his busy schedule we have a chance to listen to his presentation.

p. 197 in Human Genome Research and Society
Proceedings of the Second International Bioethics Seminar in Fukui, 20-21 March, 1992.

Congratulatory message

Jean Dausset,

President, Universal Movement for Scientific Responsibility, FRANCE

Dear friends,

First of all, please accept my apologizes and regrets for not being able to participate to this important meeting.

It is a happy event that scientists in Japan have decided to create a Japanese Branch of the Universal Movement for Scientific Responsibility.

In this time and unbalanced world, it is essential that all men of good will unite their thoughts to ensure that science is used exclusively for benefit of mankind. The Universal Movement for Scientific Responsibility is an organisation without political, ethnical or religious involvement. Its aim is to clear to mobilize public opinion. The public well informed by scientists would be in position to elect and influence decision makers to make their right decision in due time. Scientific progress should contribute to the avenues and future of mankind.

Good luck to the new Japan Branch of our movement under the leadership of Professor Michio Okamoto and Professor Kazumasa Hoshino.

pp. 214-215 in Human Genome Research and Society
Proceedings of the Second International Bioethics Seminar in Fukui, 20-21 March, 1992.


Okamoto: Thank you very much for your presentations. We have had at the very end of the symposium two excellent distinguished presentations by the two distinguished scholars. We should pay full respect to the organisers who have given us this opportunity, Prof. Fujiki, I pay respect to your thoughtfulness. These were very impressive presentations and we fully enjoyed them. They raised some very important issues. We have concentrated our efforts on these issues for the last two days, and recognising the issues previously presented, they expanded some other issues, and suggested that there might be some other direction for us scientists to take. I was very deeply impressed.

In Prof. Mˇlan¨on's presentation, those suggestions and the reasons for the Universal Movement for Scientific Responsibility initiated by Prof. Dausset was expanded. The Universal Movement for Scientific Responsibility was initiated in France and expanded. When looking at the membership of that organisation it is an accumulation and concentration of all the intellectual power of France. Prof. Cohen is also a member there, and we would like to have his comment.

Cohen: During the meeting contacts have been taken by Professor's Fujiki, Mˇlan¨on from Quˇbec and myself with Professor's Okamoto and Hoshino, and it is probable that the Japanese Branch of MURS will be installed officially during this current year. We are very pleased that this is possible.

Okamoto: Last autumn, Prof. Fujiki took Prof. Laurent Degos to Kyoto, and Prof. Degos introduced this idea which is being conducted in France. He suggested that this movement be introduced into Japan, to open up a local chapter here, and he requested that I serve as the chairman of the local chapter. Prof. Fujiki promised to make a commitment to this goal, and he suggested that the time of this seminar in March 1992 would be suitable. Originally part of the objective of this seminar was the establishment of the local chapter. Unfortunately Prof. Dausset was unable to come because of illness.

While listening to Prof. Gajdusek some important things came into my mind. As I have told you, I have an experience in the Council of Science and Technology for the past ten years. We can certainly question whether the routine and current direction we are taking is appropriate. I have been casting many questions into their way of handling the situation. Even if we solve the problem of educational system reform, science is a main stream of society, so everything in society might be affected by the discoveries and extension of science and technology. I could share a lot of empathy for those presentations, as I am now in the process for the establishment of an International Institute of Advanced Studies in which basically we try to find alternative possibilities to the Western advance of science and technology. There would be some effort made for the pursuit of new directions. We have been recognising the history of medicine so far, and based on this there has been the very important suggestion of another way that we can take in medicine and future science. So-called pure science as referred to by Prof. Mˇlan¨on has a lot of implications. One concept is that scientists should think about many issues of society, another concept is that scientists can just concentrate on science only. This issue was very impressive for me. As some of you know, Prof. Shosaku Numa of Kyoto University dedicated all his life to the advancement of science, and he died at the age of 61, just recently. When taking about the responsibility of scientists it is a very important issue for us to identify the role that scientists play, and their responsibility.

At the end of my comment, I would like to point out two issues. One of them is concerned with the concept of science. Firstly, according to my understanding, science cannot just be Western science and technology of the Western world, it can have a broader recognition. The second issue is the recent tendency of science and technology. Science and technology may move closer to each other and become one entity. And so even basic science can have economic value in combination with technology. At the end of this year EC integration is expected, and Canada and America have also reached a free bilateral trade agreement. In that block formation, maybe science and technology might also be enclosed within some framework. There is then the possibility that science and technology might be blocked within these blocks in some instances, blocking the progress to the goal of sharing common assets for all human beings. In the current world the responsibility of scientists should be thoroughly discussed.

This seminar is focused on the issue of bioethics, however, economic, political and cultural issues are all dependent on the advancement of science and technology. Therefore fundamentally speaking, the recognition is very essential and vital for us. We have to fully endeavour to work out what is the responsibility on our shoulder. The cultures of the Western world and Eastern world may differ, Japan fortunately has some mixture of both. Under these circumstances we can make a further effort for reviewing the scientist's responsibility. It is not only limited to the scope of bioethics, it can be applied to the issues concerning all the fields of science and technology. Prof. Mˇlan¨on and Prof. Gajdusek presented us with wonderful presentations, and have made this seminar very fruitful. My appreciation is addressed to all the distinguished guests of this seminar. I would like to conclude the session now.

Finally, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to President Torizuka and Professor Fujiki for their arranging this frutiful symposium and inviting us.

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