- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2000

ASSOCIATED PRESS

TOKYO

Japan's parliament passed a measure yesterday making the cloning of humans a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of $90,000.

The measure, which prohibits creating human embryos by inserting somatic cells into an unfertilized egg, is the first in Japan that penalizes a specific kind of research, a parliament spokesman said.

The legislation, which also calls on the government to draft regulations governing cloning technology, passed the upper house by a vote of 229-11. It passed the more powerful lower house earlier in November.

The spokesman said the measure also bans mixing human and animal cells to create hybrid embryos and forbids implanting hybrid embryos into human or animal mothers.

The legislation must be promulgated to take effect, but it was not clear when that might occur.

Legislation or guidelines to ban human cloning are pending in dozens of nations. Several countries, including Britain, Israel and Germany, already have banned it. In many others, no laws specifically ban the practice, but ethical guidelines would appear to prohibit it.

The Vatican has condemned a British proposal to clone human embryos, calling it a "gross violation" of human dignity that would murder innocents. A spokesman has said it is "absurd" to consider that one could bring an embryo to life for research purposes and then end its existence shortly afterward as if the life had never existed.

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