International Journal of Mental Health & PsychiatryISSN: 2471-4372

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Commentary, Int J Ment Health Psychiatry Vol: 1 Issue: 1

Catastrophe of Japanese Psychiatric Brainbank

Keiko Ikemoto1,2,3*
1Department of Psychiatry, Iwaki Kyoritsu General Hospital, Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan
2Department of Legal Medicine, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Japan
3Department of Forensic Medicine, Health Bioscience Institute, University of Tokushima Graduate School, Tokushima, Japan
Corresponding author : Keiko Ikemoto
Department of Psychiatry, Iwaki Kyoritsu General Hospital Iwaki, Fukushima, 973-8555, Japan
Tel : +81-246-267-3151,Fax : +81-246-27-2148
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: April 08, 2015 Accepted: May 13, 2015 Published: May 14, 2015
Citation: Ikemoto K (2015) Catastrophe of Japanese Psychiatric Brainbank. Int J Ment Health Psychiatry 1:1 doi:10.4172/2471-4372.1000102


In Japan, a national law for autopsy and dead body storage has been applied to manage brain banks, though this law would need some amendment for research use of human materials. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster, Fukushima Psychiatric Brainbank lacked an autopsy-qualified researcher among them. Some problems which disturbed development of Japanese brain bank are discussed.

Keywords: Psychiatric; Brain banks

Brain research using postmortem brains has been pivotal to explore pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric diseases. Many of ambitious researchers have engaged in postmortem brain studies, and have successfully revealed mysteries of human brains, and also pathophysiology of mental illnesses. For this purpose, brain banks, i.e. research resources of postmortem brain tissues, have had essential roles, though there has not yet been universal consensus in ethics and world law for running brain banks.
Legal problems
In Japan, autopsy and brain storage has been allowed in some limited situations or individuals, which has been indicated by a related national law. Due to the law, which indicates autopsy and human dead body storage, human brain samples have been far accessible for limited officially autopsy-qualified researchers assigned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor in Japan, or for professors and associate professors of departments of anatomy, legal medicine, and pathology. Japanese research system has not yet allowed legal autopsy brains to be used by researchers other than the field of forensic medicine. It has long been an obstacle for brain researchers not to easily obtain control brains for pathophysiological studies in Japan. It has been said that some amendment of Japanese law for autopsy and dead body storage would be necessary for development of Japanese brain banks as well as for progress of brain research.
Excessively ambitious researcher
In such a situation, legal and/or ethical restriction for research use of human brain samples would readily be ignored by ambitious brain researchers. In recent international congress, including the World Federation of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) in Kyoto, Japan, in 2013, it was noted that some Japanese researchers managed the Fukushima Psychiatric Brainbank as if they had an autopsy-qualified researcher among them, though they already expelled the one from their research group after the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster.
Women researchers rather than men are more likely to fall the victim to this type of academic harassment caused by men’s excessive ambition. It should be noticed that this might be a reason why Japanese brain bank system has not yet been well progressed in spite of industrious efforts, because in the research fields of histochemistry or neuropathology, a large contribution of women researchers has already been proved to be indispensable for worldwide brain banks. In this context, it is not only Japanese legal system, indicating autopsy and dead body storage, but also men’s excessive ambition that caused to violate legal restriction for protect autopsy-qualified researchers, and that has long disturbed the development of Japanese brain research, in some research areas, notably, histochemistry and/or neuropathology [1].
The Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology newly established the Gender Equality Promotion Committee, and its first meeting was held on the 14th, September, 2013. It is expected that promotion of gender equality in Japanese academic societies would help to promote brain research in Japan, and also to recover the catastrophic situation of Fukushima Psychiatric Brainbank.


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