Letter from Kenichi Matsubara to Robert M. Cook-Deegan
NOTE: One in a set of letters faxed to McKusick by Cook-Deegan.
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (147,851 Bytes)
1989-08-17 (August 17, 1989)
Osaka University. Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology
Cook-Deegan, Robert M.
United States Congress. Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee
Original Repository: Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. Victor Almon McKusick Collection
Reproduced with permission of Kenichi Matsubara.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Human Genome Project
Medical Genetics, Molecular Biology, and the Human Genome Project, 1980-2008
Letter from Robert M. Cook-Deegan to D. Allan Bromley (September 18, 1989)
Letter from Robert M. Cook-Deegan to Kenichi Matsubara (September 26, 1989)
August 17, 1989
Thank you for your Fax of July 9, telling me of your concern about possible conflict between Japan and U.S. in connection
with the genome efforts. As you pointed out, I see some discrepancies or frustrations growing. Because I do not know what
was talked about the Japanese efforts in the Moscow meeting, it is hard for me to trace how the distrust feelings developed.
Wasn't there a Japanese fellow who could speak for us, or explain what's going on in Japan?
Jim gave me a letter telling his cancellation to visit Japan this fall, and urging us right away to raise money for HUGO (why
HUGO?). Thanks for your information, this was not totally unexpected, but some parts of my plans, such as initiating a bilateral
cooperation programme between Japan and U.S. (NIH) seems to have gone on deadlocks. I understand that Jim may want to see
majority of the developed countries spending reasonable amounts of money on Human Genome Project.
Japanese efforts are just about to take off. Mombusho has issued an official and special recommendation to push forward the
human genome efforts. The Mombusho will spend fairly large amount of money on installing new center(s), facilities and grant(s)
for the genome efforts. For a time being, [yen] 300 [million/year] will be spent for two years while we work organizing people
and doing some research. Now in Japan, beside the Mombusho, AST spends [yen] 200 [million/year], and Ministry of Health and
Welfare is considering to propose a budget of similar size for FY 1990. In addition, ERATO has decided to run a project on
"Chromosome Research" (a tentative name) which is closely related to the genome effort. Its budget is about [yen]
2 [billion/5 year]. Yet other agencies may join in a year or two. Despite of these efforts, and despite I and my colleagues
are doing our best, up until 1991 there will be unproportionally small Japanese investments on the Human Genome Efforts as
compared to the US. The time lag between Western countries, particularly U.S., and Japan reflects the different roles of the
Congress, the different bureaucratic systems, the different structures in scientific community and so on, as you may well
The next problem is the fund-raising for HUGO. The Japanese private industries are not likely to donate the big money, such
as an order of ten million dollars right away. We are organizing a meeting between scientists and some businessmen. If things
go well, then we will start a fund-raising machinery. The Japanese business circle will not contribute money to HUGO until
they are officially approached from the HUGO. We have not been asked yet. Without following this protocol, I can see of no
possibility for fund raising for HUGO, however prominent scientists cry loudly.
I feel now that the most serious problem is not the lack of our efforts, but the lack of communications. It was unfortunate
that I could have been in the Moscow scene where some people were said to speak that Japan should be excluded from the coordination
efforts. Scientific community can neither make progress nor have prospective future as long they develop a sense of private
club, or fail to develop mutual trust and understanding.
Perhaps, it may take sometime before the current relationship between U.S. and Japan can change. I hope that such attitudes
as bashing Japan while talks are going on will be regretfully reflected in future. I must add that all the Japanese scientists
appreciate the contribution by US scientists, acknowledge the efficient system in the U.S. scientific community, and are proud
of having good friends in the U.S.
If I were to ask your favor now, perhaps it may be to help people understand about where the problems are. It will be helpful
for me, in addition, if you could let me know the structure of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee of the House of
Representatives and its roles in the U.S. genome efforts. Informations whether there are some other machineries in the congress
related to the genome efforts will also be acknowledged.