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As host of an informal ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization, Japan should take the initiative in easing rules on pharmaceutical patents so developing countries can have better access to desperately needed drugs, according to Dr. Tatsuo Hayashi, president of Africa-Japan Forum.

“Japan’s position is similar to that of the United States and Switzerland, putting more importance on protecting patent rights of pharmaceutical makers,” said Hayasahi, who has worked as a volunteer doctor in the Third World. “I urge Japan to take a more humanitarian standpoint.”

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