Kumamoto – National Sanatorium Kikuchi Keifuen, a former isolation facility for leprosy patients in Kumamoto Prefecture, dissected the bodies of hundreds of patients after they died, the facility has revealed after a six-year probe.
Of a total of 479 patients who were dissected, both by the facility and a local university, 389 people have been identified, the facility in the city of Koshi, Kumamoto Prefecture, said in a report on its investigation. The facility “cannot escape being accused of disrespecting human rights,” the report said.
The sanatorium also found that there was a period in which the facility urged patients to sign documents allowing for their dissections after death.
The finding came after it was revealed in 2013 that a medical college that later became Kumamoto University’s School of Medicine made 20 sets of skeleton specimens by dissecting the bodies of 43 patients from Kikuchi Keifuen between 1927 and 1929. Kumamoto University and an association of patients at the sanatorium requested that the facility investigate the matter in 2014. The report was compiled this month.
Of some 2,400 patients at Kikuchi Keifuen who died between 1911 and 1965, 291 were dissected by the sanatorium and 98 by Kumamoto University’s School of Medicine and its precursor, the report said. They were identified through records, including personal identification documents compiled by the facility. There also were records of dissections for 90 bodies that have not been identified, according to the report.
Of the total, five bodies were those of newborns or stillborn babies.
The report said that two doctors from Kikuchi Keifuen were involved in the dissections, and that they “were in a position to know about the creation of the skeleton specimens.”
Between 1936 and 1958, some patients were required to submit forms giving permission for dissection in the name of medical research.
“The fact that patients were dissected is significant,” Seiji Mita, head of the Kikuchi Keifuen, which is currently a sanatorium for leprosy patients and ex-leprosy patients, said Tuesday. “I don’t think the patients wanted it.”
“As a treatment facility that violated human rights in the past, we have the responsibility to create and leave accurate records,” he added.