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A group of opposition lawmakers proposed Tuesday that the Upper House amend a bill to revise the Organ Transplant Law, seeking to delay the abolishment of the current minimum age of 15 for donors.

While the bill that cleared the Lower House last week would scrap the age limit of 15 or under for organ donors, the proposed amendment calls for maintaining the current age limit for a year to enable the creation of a new government panel to examine the matter.

Led by Keiko Chiba and Yuko Mori of the Democratic Party of Japan, the group of DPJ and Social Democratic Party members in the Upper House also aims to counter the provision in the original bill of recognizing people who are brain dead as legally dead.

The current Organ Transplant Law recognizes brain death only in cases involving people who have already declared their intention to donate organs and if their family members agree to it, and only allows people aged 15 or older to donate organs.

To increase the number of transplants in Japan, the bill is designed to allow people to donate organs regardless of their age provided they never stated their opposition while they were alive and family members give their consent.

The Upper House is expected to deliberate both the bill and the group’s amendment in a plenary session this week.

According to the proposed amendment, an ad hoc research panel would be set up at the Cabinet Office to look into the criteria for determining children as brain dead and investigate ways to prevent harvesting organs from victims of child abuse.

The panel would be comprised of up to 15 members from academic and other sectors nominated by the prime minister and approved by both Diet chambers. It would be required to report its findings to the prime minister within a year of the revised law’s enforcement.

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