Bill to mandate prison for cloning of humans

The Science and Technology Agency compiled a draft bill Tuesday that will ban the cloning of humans, punishable with a penalty of up to five years in prison.

The bill was submitted to the Liberal Democratic Party’s Council for Science and Technology and is scheduled for approval Friday by the Cabinet. The bill will then be submitted to the current Diet session.

If passed, this would be the first law in Japan that penalizes a specific area of research.

The bill prohibits impregnating organisms with embryos created through cloning. Violators could face a maximum five-year prison term and a fine of up to 3 million yen.

The same penalties will also apply if researchers impregnate organisms with hybrid embryos — where animal germ cells are used to fertilize human germ cells — or chimera embryos, where human and animal embryonic cells are combined.

The bill calls for all other use of cloning techniques to be reported to the government for review. If submitted abstracts do not fit national guidelines, changes will be ordered.

Failure to report or follow such orders will result in fines of up to 1 million yen or a maximum one-year prison term, according to the bill.

Penalties will apply not only to researchers, but also to research institutions. The bill also contains a clause that requires that it be reassessed five years after going into effect, to ensure currency with clone technology at that time.

England and Germany have both passed laws that ban the creation of cloned humans, with a maximum 10-year prison term in England and a maximum 5 years in Germany.