The decision Friday by the Tokyo District Court to hand Akihito Matsumura, a former senior health ministry official, a suspended prison term for professional negligence resulting in the death of a patient from AIDS underscores the difficulties in trials involving the criminal liability of bureaucrats.

The main focus of the trial was whether Matsumura, who between 1985 and 1986 was head of the now-defunct Biologics and Antibiotics Division, knew of the potential dangers posed by unheated blood coagulants when they were administered to two patients — a hemophiliac and a patient suffering from a liver disorder.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.