Mysteries of the human body "is an exhibition, which is open to the fee-paying public, comprising specimens of human corpses produced using a technique called 'plastination'. The purpose of this paper is to review the ethical issues of this exhibition. Dignity of the corpse dictates that casual utilization of cadavers is not acceptable; usage should be limited to that with discernable meaning and appropriate intention. Although this exhibition claims to be educational, there are issues with the method of displaying the specimens and questions regarding its educational effectiveness. There are also many uncertainties regarding the origin of the specimens, which are said to have been donated to science in China. Primarily, under existing Japanese law it is not possible to use bodies donated to science as exhibition articles without compensation. Consequently, this exhibition slips through the gap between Chinese and Japanese law. In order to set parameters for the provision of corpses genuinely needed for research and educational purposes, a law stipulating the rigorous confirmation of donor intent and the ethical requirements is vital. Conception of this kind of law necessitates examination of the ethical issues of this exhibition which exploits the gap in existing legislation.
Bioethics 19 (1), 52-59, 2009
Japan Association for Bioethics