A Reply to Leavitt's Commentary - Let's Stop Bashing Japan

- Takashi Tsuchiya
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
Faculty of Literature and Human Sciences
Osaka City University, Osaka 558-8585, JAPAN
E-mail: tsuchiya@lit.osaka-cu.ac.jp

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 13 (2003), 167-8.

I read Dr. Frank J. Leavitt's commentary "Let's Stop Bashing Japan: Commentary on Tsuchiya, Sass, Thomas, Nie & Tsuneishi" in EJAIB 13 (4) [July 2003], pp.134-135.  I think Frank made some good points, but several of his criticisms are out of point and unfair especially to my paper "In The Shadow of the Past Atrocities: Research Ethics with Human Subjects in Contemporary Japan" in EJAIB 13 (3) [May 2003].

First, he wrote about racist attitude of some of his students.  It tells us a disappointing truth that even harshly discriminated people in history like Jews can discriminate against other ethnic groups.  But it is their problem, or a problem to Frank as their teacher, not mine.  I can only say "DO NOT discriminate against people of ANY OTHER ethnicities."  That's all.

Second, he listed many other atrocities happened in history than of Japanese doctors'.  But, of course, it cannot be excuse for Japanese.  Atrocity is atrocity.  EVERY PERSON who performs atrocity must be accused.  This thesis was clearly stated in Jing-Bao's first commentary to my paper in EJAIB 11(1) [January 2001], wasn't it?

Third, he pointed out that my thesis that the issue of human experimentation has become a taboo in Japanese medical profession must be false because we could discuss about it at TRT7 at the Tsukuba University Medical School.  But I just wrote that it has become taboo "in the medical profession," not merely "in the medical school's building."  TRT is clearly NOT a conference of the mere medical profession, NEVER of Japanese medical profession.  Frank himself must knows it.  So his critique is unfair.

In addition, he is only guessing about my thesis.  But I have evidence.  I can find very few references on research ethics when I surveyed Japanese bibliographies of medical writings.  For example, according to the Igaku Chuo Zasshi (the Central Bibliography of Japanese Medicine), the most popular bibliography of medicine in Japan, there are only 16 articles on human research out of 675 BIOETHICS articles from January 1987 to February 2002.

Fourth, he wrote that little discussion on ethics of human research in behavioral sciences is not unique situation to Japan.  That's fine.  I agree.  I did not wrote "unique," but that it was a "characteristics."  I never regard it unique to Japan.  Still, it surely represents a character of Japanese situation.

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