Commentary on Nudeshima

- Masahiro Morioka
CIAS, Osaka Prefecture University,
Gakuencho, Sakai, Osaka, 599-8531 Japan
International Network for Life Studies

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 11 (2001), 2-3.
Last November, the "Human Cloning Regulation Act" was established in Japan. This is one of the early regulations around the world in the field of cloning. However, many bioethics researchers doubt whether it can really regulate research concerning human cloning. The law seems to say that the researchers may do anything unless they do not transfer the product back into the uterus. As Nudeshima writes, the law accepts making human-human, human-animal, animal-human chimeric embryos in laboratories, but this would not have been accepted by the public if this information had been widely reported by the mass media.

Some years ago a researcher fused the nucleus of human somatic cell into a de-nucleated animal egg following the somatic cell cloning technique. The Japanese mass media reported this incident as an example of unethical research, and the researcher apologized to the academic society. This research will be accepted under the new law (just as it is in some other countries), but it may include some grave ethical problems. We have never had intensive discussions concerning this topic. The law passed the Diet without long term serious discussions including bioethics researchers who have had doubts over human cloning research. The driving force was the ethos, "catch up with the USA in the field of biotechnology!" and no one has stopped this tide surrounding Kasumigaseki*, the "nucleus" of Japanese politics.

*The Tokyo district where the government ministries are located.

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