- Darryl Macer, Ph.D.
In this issue of the newsletter we have several provocative letters and items of broad interest to cross-cultural bioethics. We also welcome the introduction of a regular column from a friend and colleague Masahiro Morioka. Also I report on several conferences, which I attended, or was involved in organising.
Personally, the last two months have been overbusy with conferences, in additional to working on the survey results. Conferences take time away from research, but are useful especially for people not living in North America or Western Europe, where there is less opportunity to discuss views with colleagues. 1993 was the busiest year I have had, and already I have declined to attend a number of conferences in 1994. However, they were stimulating, and some brief reports are below.
On page 14 is the Fukui statement on International Bioethics, on which your comments are welcome. We also encourage the wide dissemination of it and its reproduction.
Tsukuba ELSI (Bioethics) Roundtable, 12-18 Nov. This was a meeting hosted by myself, the Eubios Ethics Institute, with support by research funds of Prof. Hiroshi Harada of the University of Tsukuba. Among the participants were: Dr Paul Billings (USA), Dr Vijay Kaushik (Russia), Dr. Frank Leavitt (Israel), Dr Masahiro Morioka (Japan), Dr Roxanne Mytikiuk (Canada), Dr Robyn Nishimi (USA), Prof. Shinryo N. Shinagawa (Japan), Dr Yasuko Shirai (Japan), Prof. Kunihiko Shoji (Japan), Prof. Knut Erik Tranoy (Norway), Prof. Daniel Wikler (USA), Dr. Michael Yesley (USA). Unfortunately several other people were unable to come. We were however joined by the chairpersons of the University of Tsukuba Medical Ethics Committee, the Gene Therapy Subcommittee, and the Animal Research Ethics Committee; and by my research students in bioethics.
Together we had an informal and lively discussion of some issues in international bioethics, looking at cross-cultural issues, and had the chance to go into issues in more depth that big meetings do not generally allow. Most of us also went to Tokyo, on the 14th, to present papers in an international workshop at the Annual Meeting of the Japan Association of Bioethics. The conclusion of the roundtable was enlightenment of some complexities of bioethics, and it was difficult to reach major conclusions in the short time we had for discussion, but we all learned many things and developed some friendships. The discussions were in fact useful to preparing a draft conference statement for the Fukui meeting, a later draft of which is included in this issue. Most of us travelled onto Fukui on the 18th. One conclusion we all shared is the need to develop cross-cultural bioethics, but we need more thought before looking at how much of bioethics can be universal.
Fukui, 19-21 Nov, 1993; The Third International Bioethics Seminar in Fukui: Intractable Neurological Disorders, Human Genome Research, & Society
The English proceedings of this seminar will be published in several weeks, and the editorial duties for that have been the cause of a delay in the publication of this issue of the newsletter. It was a broad ranging and stimulating seminar, and the proceedings will bring together a diverse collection of ethical views from not only Japan, but from a wide range of countries. In the next issue a broader description of the book will be given.
Also at the meeting, Hyakudai Sakamoto, the first president of the Japan Association of Bioethics, discussed the progress being made towards the creation of an Asian Society of Bioethics. It may be founded in early 1995, with a meeting in China. A paper he wrote on Japanese philosophical thought is in The Japan Foundation Newsletter XXI (2), 11-6. The ideas are certainly not unanimous in Japan, and generated some debate, as can be seen in the following comments by Masahiro Morioka in this newsletter. However, what we need to move towards in the internationalisation of bioethics is sharing views between different regions, and such a new society has potential to contribute to world debate on bioethics. The general topic is also very related to the issue of Universal Bioethics which I will be treating in the forthcoming book, Bioethics for the People by the People, and in a future book.
Hong Kong, 27-28 Nov, 1993: International Symposium on Biotechnology and Ethics,
This was hosted by the Centre for Applied Ethics at Hong Kong Baptist College (soon to be 'University'). Quite a range of speakers came, with both agricultural and medical issues discussed. The debate was lively, especially when presenting some results of the international bioethics survey and the suggestion of universal bioethics. The cross-cultural topics came up again, and it reinforced the impression left in the Fukui Seminar. The topic of cross-cultural bioethics is going to be a hot one for the coming few years, certainly in Asia.
The meeting was very useful to establish contacts between different countries and bioethics centres, and the Hong Kong Centre. They are building up a library and consideration of bioethics there, and if you wish to exchange any newsletters or send materials please send them to Prof. Gerhold Becker, Centre for Applied Ethics, Hong Kong Baptist College, 224 Waterloo Rd, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Tokyo, 14-15 Dec, 1993; the 8th International Bioethics Symposium, Global Concerns in AIDS: Bioethical Issues.
A mix of Japanese and foreign speakers gave presentations on issues in AIDS, arranged by Prof. Hoshino, and hosted by the Tokyo Metropolitan government. Of particular note I mention several: The philosophical issues of the social contract were discussed by John Harris, as well as the AIDS project being coordinated from the Manchester University Centre for Social Ethics and Policy. A cross-cultural presentation from Reuben Sher from South Africa looked at the approaches to HIV by Western and Indigenous medical healers there. The problems of not recognising the HIV "problem" were highlighted in a paper by Munawar Anees calling AIDS a silent killer in the Muslim World. In some countries it is still seen as a Western problem, of Western lifestyle. Unfortunately it is not so limited, and some Japanese presentators also talked about ignorance of the problem in Japan. Several people from the United States also gave papers, including a person with HIV, something which is needed in Japan where almost no one with AIDS comes out in public because of the social stigmatisation against them or their families.