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Regulations on Genome Editing of Human Embryos in Japan: Our Moral Moratorium

  • EISUKE NAKAZAWA, KEIICHIRO YAMAMOTO, ARU AKABAYASHI and AKIRA AKABAYASHI

Abstract:

The use of human embryos in genome editing research has recently been approved in China and the United Kingdom. In Japan, the debate on regulations on genome editing research studies using human embryos is underway, but is becoming increasingly entangled, to the point of deadlock. One main reason for this is the misalignment between the Japanese government and the research communities, in their awareness surrounding these regulations. In this article, we report on this ongoing and entangled debate in Japan concerning the regulations on genome editing technology using human embryos. The most critically needed next step is a grassroots level discussion among various experts such as those in the arts and humanities.

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1. Genome kenkyu shinsa “kuni ga sekinin”: Suga kanbochokan [Japanese government must be responsible for review on genome research]. Asahi Shimbun Digital April 20, 2017; available at http://digital.asahi.com/articles/DA3S12900323.html (last accessed 26 Sept 2017).

2. Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI. Hitojuseihai heno genome hensyu gijutsu wo mochiiru kenkyu nit suite [On research using genome editing technology on human embryos (Interim Report)]. April 22, 2016; available at http://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/tyousakai/life/haihu103/sanko1.pdf (last accessed 26 Sept 2017).

3. See note 2, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2016, at 4.

4. See note 2, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2016, at 4–5.

5. See note 2, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2016, at 5.

6. See note 2, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2016, at 5. Regarding genome editing technology used for enhancement, see also Yamamoto, K, Ibuki, T. Sanfujinka ryouiki ni okeru saisei iryou to genomu henshuu: Hito juseihai ni okeru genomu henshuu to sono rinriteki kadai [Regenerative medicine and genome editing in the field of obstetrics and gynecology: Genome editing with human embryos and related ethical challenges]. Rinsho Fujinka Sanka 2017;71(5): 471–75.

7. See note 2, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2016, at 5.

8. See note 2, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2016, at 6.

9. See note 2, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2016, at 6–7.

10. Plenary Meeting and Expert Panel, Cabinet Office, 2014; available at http://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/english/policy/panel.html (last accessed 26 Sept 2017).

11. Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI. Dai 103 kai seimeirinri senmonchosakai gijigaiyou (an) [Meeting minutes from the 103th meeting of the Expert Panel on Bioethics (draft)]. May 19, 2017; available at http://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/tyousakai/life/haihu104/siryo1.pdf (last accessed 26 Sept 2017), at 13.

12. Council for Science and Technology. Hitohai no toriatukai ni kansuru kihonteki kangaekata [Fundamental principles concerning the treatment of human embryos]. July 23, 2004; available at http://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/tyousakai/life/haihu39/siryo5-1-1.pdf (last accessed 26 Sept 2017).

13. See note 12, Council for Science and Technology 2004, at 5.

14. Council for Science and Technology. Hitohaisei kansaibou wo cyushin toshita hitohaikenkyu ni kansuru kihonteki kangaekata [Fundamental thoughts regarding human embryo research focused on human embryonic stem cells]. March 6, 2000; available at http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/shingi/kagaku/rinri/ki00306.htm#00 (last accessed 26 Sept 2017).

15. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology: MEXT. Hito ES saibo no juritsu oyobi shiyo nikansuru shishin [Guidelines on the derivation and utilization of human embryonic stem cells]. 2001; available at http://www.lifescience.mext.go.jp/files/pdf/32_88.pdf (last accessed 26 Sept 2017).

16. See note 11, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2017, at 10–1.

17. See note 11, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2017, at 17–8.

18. Juseiran genome hensyu gakkaigawa ga shinnsai kaisan naikakufu ni ikou [The academic societies notify cabinet office about breakup of the review board on embryos genome editing]. Nihon Keizai Shimbun Online, April 18, 2017; available at https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG18H4Q_Y7A410C1CR0000/ (last accessed 26 Sept 2017).

19. See note 18, Nihon Keizai Shimbun Online 2017.

20. Akabayashi, A. Bioethics in Japan (1980–2009): Importation, development, and the future. Asian Bioethics Review 2009;1(3):267–78. See also, Kodama, S, Akabayashi, A. Neither a “person” nor a “thing”: The controversy concerning the moral and legal status of human embryos in Japan. In: Capps, BJ, Campbell, AV, eds. Contested Cells: Global Perspectives on the Stem Cell Debate. London: Imperial College Press; 2010:421–39.

21. See note 12, Council for Science and Technology 2004, at 5.

22. See note 11, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2017, at 13.

23. Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI. Dai 104 kai seimeirinri senmonchosakai gijigaiyou (an) [Meeting minutes from the 104th meeting of the Expert Panel on Bioethics (draft)]. May 19, 2017; available at http://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/tyousakai/life/gijiroku.pdf (last accessed 26 Sept 2017), at 5.

24. See note 23, Expert Panel on Bioethics, CSTI 2017, at 9–10.

25. Recommendation: Wagakuni no igaku/iryou ryouiki ni okeru genomu henshuu gijutsu no arikata [The face of genome editing technology in the fields of medicine and medical care in Japan]. Science Council of Japan. 2017; available at http://www.scj.go.jp/ja/info/kohyo/pdf/kohyo-23-t251-1.pdf (last accessed 29 Sept 2017).

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Regulations on Genome Editing of Human Embryos in Japan: Our Moral Moratorium

  • EISUKE NAKAZAWA, KEIICHIRO YAMAMOTO, ARU AKABAYASHI and AKIRA AKABAYASHI

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