Clerics query organ transplant bill

A group of religious leaders issued a statement April 17 calling for careful deliberations on a human organ transplant bill now in the final stage of legislative action.

The statement, signed by leaders of 32 religious organizations, is critical of the bill presented by a group of lawmakers that includes former Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama, who is also a physician. The statement favors a counterproposal presented by Seiichi Kaneda, a Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker, which does not define brain death as human death, unlike the bill under consideration.

Although supporters have signed the statement in their individual capacities, the statement is expected to have some impact on the future of the bill, which will be put to a Lower House vote April 22. The statement asserts that the concepts of death and life differ according to the time, region, value system, religion, doctrine and tradition. It also says that it is rash to state that there is a social consensus to regard brain death as human death. It further argues that the organ transplant legislation should not promote transplantation by defining legal brain death as human death. It also states that the problem should be studied from a viewpoint that brain death does not constitute human death.