2012 年 30 巻 p. 63-67
Members of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, also known as Jehovah's Witnesses, refuse blood transfusions based on their religious principles. In Japan, their refusal has posed challenges since the 1980s. The only court ruling on this matter by the Supreme Court was made in 2001, which ruled that the refusal of blood transfusion based on religious reasons should be respected as a personal right. The Supreme Court apparently chose the words cautiously and addressed exclusively the refusal of blood transfusion based on religious principles, as the Japanese judicial system has a way of judging exclusively the contested issue. Nevertheless, the ruling has mostly been regarded as a celebrated case of recognizing the superiority of an autonomous decision by a patient over other values or obligations. Although typical blood transfusion refusal in an operation planned in advance by competent adult Jehovah's Witnesses has been established since the court ruling, it has been understood in an expansive way without justification. That is, the religiosity of blood transfusion refusal by Jehovah's Witnesses has been ignored for the most part, with their religious refusal understood as merely an autonomous decision or self-determination. I argue against rapid expansive interpretation of the said court decision, citing court rulings and related cases in other countries, especially the United States. In doing so, I show the need to revisit the implications of the religious aspects of refusals in potentially controversial cases.