KYOTO – Two male doctors were arrested Thursday on suspicion of assisting a woman suffering from a terminal disease to die by giving her a lethal drug.
Yoshikazu Okubo, who operates a clinic in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, and Naoki Yamamoto, a doctor in Tokyo, allegedly administered a sedative to the woman at her home in Kyoto in November last year with her consent, investigative sources said.
The woman, who had the progressive neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig’s or motor neurone disease — is believed to have wanted to die.
Okubo, 42, and Yamamoto, 43, were not her attending physicians and are suspected of helping her die for money, the sources said.
Okubo’s wife Miyo, a former House of Representatives lawmaker, 43, told reporters in Natori that her husband often engaged in part-time medical work.
The woman transferred over ¥1 million ($9,300) to Yamamoto’s bank account, according to the sources. There were signs that she had contacted Okubo via social networking services to request euthanasia.
The sources said the woman’s ALS had progressed, and while she could talk, she could hardly move her body.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes gradual paralysis. Approximately 10,000 people are affected by the disease in Japan.
On the day of the incident, the woman had told her caretaker that “acquaintances are coming,” and invited the two doctors into her home.
They left about five to 10 minutes later, and the caretaker found the woman unconscious soon after. The woman was transported to a hospital where she died.