Japan should initiate the discussion on voluntary assisted dying legislation now

Atsushi Asai, Taketoshi Okita, Yoko Shimakura, Masashi Tanaka, Miki Fukuyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: No laws or official guidelines govern voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in Japan. A legislative bill on the termination of life-sustaining measures has yet to be sent to deliberations for legislation, due to strong opposition that has prevented it from being submitted to the Diet. However, Japan has recently witnessed several cases involving VAD. Main text: Against this backdrop, we argue that Japan should begin discussion on VAD legislation, referring to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (VADA2017), which was established in 2017 in Victoria, Australia. VADA2017 puts in place a wide range of stringent safeguards and is considered worldwide to be the safest and most conservative policy on a physician offering assisted dying based on the patient’s premeditated request. We consider what opposing opinions from society would arise in response to the VADA2017. Among these will include arguments against VAD itself, those against the validation of this act, and opinions that oppose even the initiation of the dialogue on VAD. Conclusions: We conclude that to protect the right to life among those placed in vulnerable positions and, at the same time, to respect decision-making of those who wish for immediate death due to unbearable suffering, the dialogue must immediately begin with that on introducing a policy more conservative than that of the VADA2017, which solidly considers arguments against VAD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalBMC Medical Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture
  • Discussion
  • Japan
  • Objections
  • Safeguards
  • Voluntary Assisted Death Act 2017 (Victoria)
  • Voluntary assisted dying (VAD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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