pp. 428 in
Bioethics in Asia
Editors: Norio Fujiki and Darryl R. J. Macer, Ph.D.
Eubios Ethics Institute
Copyright 2000, Eubios Ethics Institute
All commercial rights reserved. This publication may be reproduced for limited educational or academic use, however please enquire with the author.
F24. Current Status and Ethical Concerns of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Japan
Nihon University School of Medicine, Japan
In 1978, the new era of assisted reproductive technology (ART) began with the announcement of the successful outcome of the first in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer in the United Kingdom. In Japan the first IVF-ET child was born in 1983 but ever since then increasing concerns have been expressed amongst physicians and patients. There has been no carefully documented standard defining client-physician GCP relations, leaving all risk management in practicing ART to the individual physician and their client. It may be said that a fait accompli has been achieved through the mode of expansion of ART in Japan with minimum efforts to establish ethical consensus in society. The Japanese Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, on the other hand, does recognize that many couples with major fertility difficulties are leaving Japan in the quest for inexpensive or no-questions-asked treatment with ART abroad.
The Japanese, as other nations, have a unique religious and cultural background to their concepts of life and death, parent-children relationships, and the marriage relationship making extrapolation of existing bioethical laws of other countires difficult. Concepts enbodied in the current civil laws do not adequately compensate for the lack of bioethical legislation such as described in the laws of U.K., France or Germany. It is of the utmost impoortance to establish our own effective guidelines for ART covering both physician-liabilitiy and client-benefit, as well as to prevent commercially-promoted unethical practice of the technology. The board of the Japanese Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology has been engaged in this task but further support and cooperation is necessary.
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