Japan's dilemma with the definition of death

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 1991 Jun;1(2):123-31. doi: 10.1353/ken.0.0101.


Japan is unusual among industrialized countries in its reluctance to use brain criteria to determine death and harvest transplant organs. This results from public distrust of the medical profession due to an earlier incident, and from concern that technological interventions will threaten religious and cultural traditions surrounding death and dying. Public acceptance is growing, however, as medical professional groups and universities develop brain criteria, and as pressure from patients who could benefit from a transplant, as well as from foreign countries, increases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Attitude to Health
  • Brain Death*
  • Confucianism
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Professional Misconduct
  • Religion*
  • Religious Philosophies
  • Social Values*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*