Religion in Modern Asia Newsletter

Religious Responses to Brain-Death Issue


The Special Committee for Research on Brain Death and Organ Transplants submitted its final report to Prime Minister Miyazawa in January 1992. According to the report, the Committee suggested that brain death be recognized officially as human death from the medical perspective, and that this position be accepted socially and legally, as well.

While opinion is divided among professional medical organizations, some religious groups have responded negatively to the Committee's position. Some new religions, including Rissho Kosei-Kai, Omoto, and Seicho no Ie deny that brain death is human death, while some Buddhist groups such as the Tendai, Jodo and Shin-gon sects have expressed reservations regard-by the conclusions, or have indicated that individual believers must be entrusted with final responsibility for the decision.

In recent surveys of Buddhist clergy, over one-half of all respondents indicated negative attitudes toward the recognition of brain death as human death. When such ambivalence exists among the professional clergy of a religious organization, it is considered unwise to attempt to establish a single public policy toward the issue by the organization as a whole. In fact, most discussions among sectarian theologians rely on evidence or logic presented by non-sectarian medical specialists or opinion leaders.

-- Apr 1, 1992, INOUE Nobutaka

Last updated: 2001/11/28 14:33:45

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