A Liberal Democratic Party policy research division on health affairs approved Thursday a draft bill to ban transactions of umbilical cord blood, except for those involving government-approved institutions.

The draft also won approval from a similar division at Komeito, the LDP’s partner in the ruling coalition. The pair will ask opposition representatives to cooperate to pass the bill before the current Diet session ends June 20.

Umbilical cord blood, which is rich in blood-forming stem cells, is transplanted into patients to treat leukemia and many other diseases.

Japan has a law governing public banks for umbilical cord blood, which store the blood procured from mothers and provide it to a third party with permission from the government.

But the law does not apply to their private counterparts, which store umbilical cord blood from mothers mainly for future use for themselves and their children, without government permission.

Last year it emerged that some people had received illegal transplants of umbilical cord blood from a bankrupt private blood bank.

The bill prohibits in principle the storage or sale of umbilical cord blood for transplantation to a third party by any party other than a public bank.

Those violating the law face up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to ¥3 million.

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