Cross-Cultural Issues in Bioethics: The Example of Human Cloning

By Heiner Roetz | Go to book overview

The Ethics of Human Cloning
and the Sprout of Human Life

Masahiro Morioka

Abstract: In 1998, the Council for Science and Technology established the
Bioethics Committee and asked its members to examine the ethical and
legal aspects of human cloning. The Committee concluded in 1999 that
human cloning should be prohibited, and, based on its report, the gov-
ernment presented a bill for the regulation of human cloning in 2000.
After a debate in the Diet, the original bill was slightly modified and is-
sued on December 6, 2000. In this paper, I take a closer look at this proc-
ess and discuss some of the ethical problems that were debated. Also, I
make a brief analysis of the concept “the sprout of human life.” Not only
people who object to human cloning, but also many of those who seek to
promote research on human cloning admit that a human embryo is the
sprout of human life and, hence, it should be highly respected. I also dis-
cuss the function of the language of utilitarianism, the language of scepti-
cism, and religious language in the discussion of human cloning in Japan.

Key Words: Human cloning, Japanese bioethics, ES cells.


1. Introduction

The birth of Dolly, the first mammal cloned from a somatic sell, attracted wide public attention in Japan, and the words “cloned human being” became a popular notion. However, the “public debate” on the ethics of human cloning was considerably less heated than that relating to brain death and organ transplantation. Scientists and commentators repeatedly stated that while the cloning of a sheep was acceptable, human cloning should be prohibited. A well-known female scientist said that she could not imagine a scientist who would try to clone a human being.

In 1998, the Council for Science and Technology established the Bioethics Committee and asked its members to examine the ethical and legal aspects of human cloning. The Committee concluded, in 1999, that human cloning should be prohibited, and, based on the report, the government presented a bill for the regulation of human cloning in 2000. After a debate in the Diet, the original bill was slightly modified and issued on December 6, 2000.

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