Editorial - Asia, North America & Bioethics

- Darryl Macer
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 7 (1997), 1-2.


This issue of EJAIB, number 37, was largely prepared in New Zealand over Christmas and New Year, and will be printed in Japan before a trip to join colleagues at conferences in India. As 1997 has begun we can hope for some renewed willingness to adhere to bioethical principles of love and justice.

It is not without design that the Asian Bioethics network project that is sponsoring the visits of myself and two associate editors, Frank Leavitt and Jayapaul Azariah to India and Israel includes those countries. Japan is stable compared to the situation in both those countries, where terrorist attacks and questions of occupation ethics and disputed territories cause extremists to kill, and work against peace. Japan has much responsibility to Asia, and I tried to offer a picture of Japan to international bioethics over the past 6 years of this journal. The meetings that are planned in Japan from 30 October to 8 November, 1997, should be a bridge for those who have not been in Japan before and for those who have.

I had chosen the title "What Japan can offer to international bioethics" for the Tsukuba Roundtable in 1997, and after attending and enjoying the Third IAB Congress in San Francisco and the meetings from 20-25 November, I could conclude that the answer to this question is a lot. What I found in sessions at the IAB Congress is that I am afraid bioethicists in the USA speak a different language, but one that is a decade out of date - not ahead. My four years absence from the USA made the monoculturalism of the society there so striking. Alternative views were called "minority" views, and although these should be represented it was said, the basic assumptions were often so naive - to those who come from other parts of the world, who we could remind those in North America, are were the majority of the world are.

There were attempts by the organizers to internationalize US bioethics, and this may have been accomplished to some degree, but there appears to be a long way to go! The IAB had decided to hold the Fourth World Congress of Bioethics in Tokyo, Japan in autumn 1998, and it will be another chance for those from abroad to come to Japan. Details will be announced soon, but attempts will be made to lower the costs that were charged at the latest IAB Congress, which charged fees of US$400+ for advance registration for 4 days, in efforts to subsidize people to attend the meeting.... Please note that the International Meetings in Japan held in Fukui for example, have usually been priced at US$50-100 as will the 1997 meetings.

The IAB Congress in San Francisco included many participants, dominated by 80%+ from the USA, which is to be expected and welcomed if people came to learn of International Bioethics. One hopes that the citation bias (see R. Nicholson's "Ethical citations in writing papers", EJAIB 5 (1996), 86, which applies to most bioethics papers) for North American references will shift as they learn of work in other parts of the world.

There were many memorable papers at the Congress, though tapes could be bought if you could not attend the simultaneous sessions, with the worst times having 8-9 sessions at the same time with otherlaping topics often seen. It was sad to miss to see friends because of the huge numbers, but a chance to meet somenew ones as well. The networks provided by the IAB are one way to build on this, and additionally the IAB has started an Internet site .

In this issue of the journal are further papers on a range of issues, from personhood, to blood-bath ethics, to the traditional theme of genetics. We call for more papers from Asia, and will be publishing papers from the Indian meetings, in coming issues. If you missed out on the meetings in 1996, we welcome you to the further meetings which will continue in these three countries over the coming year. Especially we encourage local persons with interest in bioethics to join, and contribute, and also join the network on Bioethics and Genetics. From the research interests of members listed in the latest list in these pages, it is clear it is not limited to genetics. It of course covers cross-cultural ethics and Asian bioethics, with the cooperation of several societies, such as the East Asian Association of Bioethics, and MURS Japan. I welcome all to join, and hope that efforts to internationalize bioethics can be coordinated.

We welcome those who read these pages on the Internet, were the majority of readers appear to be. Most unknown to me, a warm invitation to send your comments and share in international dialogue is made. Thank you to existing subscribers, and your subscriptions will be well received.


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