The Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology


Cover Letter

Update: March 11, 2011

Dear Director of Admissions,

Members of the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology (JSPN) would like to express our sincere condolences to the people who have suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake. This massive, 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan occurred on Friday, 11 March 2011, at 14:46 (JST) causing devastation throughout the Tohoku area.
In Japan, earthquakes are common, thus research in the aftermath of disaster is essential for establishing an appropriate set of measures against post-traumatic stress disorder. However, as natural disasters are sudden, investigation can sometimes start without proper scientific justification and continue without strict adherence to normative ethics. Ethical problems related to research in the aftermath of disaster have, therefore, been discussed recently. There is general consensus that fundamental ethical principles are required in the research, regardless of the number of distinctive factors, including the degree of devastation affecting participants and the urgency that is often involved in initiating research in the aftermath of disaster.
For this purpose, a project focused on the aftermath of disaster must be regulated by ethical guidelines (i.e. the “Ethical Guidelines about Epidemiological Research”). In addition, researchers must respect cultural and local traditions. Exploiting or abusing disaster survivors for research without strong scientific justification and ethical consideration should never be allowed. JSPN is strongly opposed to investigation conducted in the disaster-stricken areas (i.e. the Tohoku region) that is lacking ethical/scientific rigor and is not culturally or regionally appropriate.
 We thank you in advance for your consideration of our statement and we request that special consideration should be given to the following matters:

  1. Although assistance or cooperation in the investigation and research concerning the Great East Japan Earthquake from foreign countries is offered, in our opinion, the research institution in Japan should carry out research according to the needs in Japan.
  2. We request a rigorous review process of ethical issues pertaining to research in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, including the approval of the ethics review committee, so that proposals that are ethically problematic will be prevented.
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