Dialogue of Director Susumu Shimazono, Sophia University Grief Care Research Institute and President Kiyoshi Suzuki, General Incorporated Association, MOA Health Science Foundation

Awareness of the preciousness of human life that is limited

Suzuki: What exactly does that mean?

Shimazono: I am happy as I talk about the study of longevity as an example. I also want to take rejuvenating medicine if there is one. Imagine a society where people are still acting like youth at the age of 90 or 100. Furthermore, the time may come when the average life expectancy will be 120 or 130 years.
When that happens, I think we will have more people who want to die. Responding to that request is to accept euthanasia. A society in which death can be selected at any time can be said to be a society that affirms suicide.

Suzuki: It is of great concern to be involved in medical ethics, such as organ transplantation, cloning, and regenerative medicine problems using iPS cells.

Shimazono: Last year, it was announced that we were able to create prototype tissues such as the human heart, liver, and brain in pig embryos. As this technology advances, the criteria for distinguishing between humans and animals become unclear. In addition, research on gene modification called “genome editing” is also in progress. I feel that the sense of the “preciousness of life” is breaking down.
Life is a grace. Life is a gift. People do not live on their own. Today’s life science is trying to break down this kind of feeling. If that feeling is broken, the common values of human society and the common understanding of the same human beings will be destroyed. When it becomes possible to modify or improve a person with such technologies, many people may consider that the person with a disability has not been improved. And, they may come to think that people with disabilities are not worth living. I feel that such a way of thinking has already begun.

Suzuki: I used to work as a pediatrician. I thought it was wonderful whenever I experienced a major disease that can leave a big disability was cured with medicine. Thanks to the medicine, the child can live as a normal child. However, I feel strange to hear when people interpret that to mean that it is a mistake to be born with a disability.

Shimazono:In order to be aware of the preciousness of human life, which is limited, it is necessary to foster the idea that life is blessed or given, and to help each other.