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2008年11月14日 (金)


The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 14, 2008)

Relax rules to allow more organ transplants

中国臓器仲介 移植できぬ国内状況も問題だ(1114日付・読売社説)

How wide has the organ transplant brokerage business spread abroad?


The Japanese police have started investigating an organization that brokered organ transplants in China for Japanese recipients.


Japan's Organ Transplant Law prohibits providing or brokering organs for profit, and also is enforceable on such acts committed abroad. The police must figure out the full picture of this incident.


However, how exactly the police started investigating this organ transplant brokerage organization is not a simple story.


A Japanese man, who headed the organization, was arrested in China for allegedly violating provisions implemented last year to prohibit the selling and buying of organs. However, a Chinese court never attempted to prosecute the man for the illegality of his organ brokerage business. He was found guilty for falsely advertising his organ transplant business and was deported, returning to Japan on Tuesday.



A test of Japan-China ties

It is said that more than 10,000 organ transplants are conducted annually in China, with most of the organs taken from death-row inmates. Since organ transplants there are not based on good-will donations from those who end up brain-dead following an accident or through natural causes, it is easy to imagine that money is paid under the table in compensation for organs.


Such circumstances in China might have played a part in the Japanese man not being prosecuted over the organ transplant brokerage. Since China did not try to prosecute him, the Japanese police now have good reason to investigate what he did in the country.


Whether the police can place criminal charges on him depends on the cooperation of Chinese investigative authorities. This will become the first case to test an investigative cooperation treaty that is set to go into force between Japan and China at the end of this month.



Law doesn't fit situation

Behind the brokering of organs abroad is the fact that it is very difficult to get a transplant operation in Japan.


Only 76 transplant operations have been conducted with organs from brain-dead donors since the Organ Transplant Law was implemented in 1997 because very strict regulations not found in any other country are imposed on transplants in Japan.


In addition to consent from donors made on special cards or in other forms of writing, permission is needed from the families of brain-dead people to have organs transplanted. Also, under the regulations, only those aged 15 or older are deemed capable of giving consent for donating their organs. This means it is almost impossible for babies and toddlers to receive transplants in Japan because the organs of people aged 15 or older are too big.


This forces many people, including babies, toddlers and even adults, to travel abroad to receive organ transplants.


Several bills to revise the Organ Transplant Law have already been submitted to the Diet, including one that would allow organ transplants through the agreement of family members if consent of the brain-dead person cannot be confirmed, which is similar to laws in many other countries.


However, why in the world are lawmakers not deliberating on these bills?


Japan is restricting the transplant of organs from brain-dead donors within the country while its people are receiving organs abroad--actually, they are essentially buying organs. This situation cannot last forever.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 14, 2008)

200811140151  読売新聞)


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