Professor Norio Ohmagari, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., Director, Disease Control & Prevention Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, delivered a lecture on the new coronavirus (COVID-19) at the meeting of a study group established to discuss the future of medical treatment and medicine which I chair, and the meeting ended in success as we expected.
After the meeting closed, a young doctor came to greet me. He was Dr. Hiroyuki Kunishima, a professor and an infection control specialist at St. Marianna University School of Medicine. At first glance, I recognized he was the son of my old acquaintance. When I lived in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, a long time ago, there was a doctor, named ‘Kunishima’ in the local hospital who supported my political campaigns. I was really pleased to meet his son. To my regret, his father had already passed away.
Young Dr. Kunishima reminded me of his father. When I served as Parliamentary Secretary for the then Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1998 or 1999, his father, Dr. Kunishima, together with his several colleagues, visited my office and expressed his strong will to save Dr. S, an alumnus of his university, who was confronted with grave difficulties for the reasons stated below.
When Dr. S was a young doctor at the hospital affiliated with Chiba University, he was suspected to be a criminal of the typhoid fever incident which happened in the hospital in 1965-1966, and he was arrested in April 1966 on suspicion of injecting typhoid fever virus into foods and drinks to deliberately spread the virus in various places. In the first instance of Chiba district court in July 1972, Dr. S was acquitted due to insufficient evidence, but the conviction was reversed, and he was sentenced to a prison term of six years at Tokyo High Court in April 1976. Subsequently, in May 1982, his appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed, and thus, Dr. S served a 6-year term in prison. Consequently, his doctor’s license was revoked by the Medical Ethics Council in 1983. I still remember that this incident was widely reported as a mystery by the mass media.
The late Dr. Kunishima told me at that time that Mr. S—he was no longer a doctor—was making his desperate efforts to clear himself of the false charge, and that he was requesting the Medical Ethics Council to reexamine his revoked doctor’s license. Many doctors, who were Mr. S’ alumni, were supporting him.
I tackled this issue in earnest. Since the Medical Ethics Council was the most prestigious council in the then Ministry of Health and Welfare, and this particular case was extremely complicated, it looked very difficult to call a meeting of the Council, but thanks to the cooperation of staff in the Ministry, I managed to request the Council to reexamine the revocation of Mr. S’ doctor license. However, the Council’s decision was not reversed.
Mr. S and I got to know each other well during this period. Mr. S’ efforts to retain his pride as a doctor was noble. I also assisted him in finding a job, asking him to travel a long distance back and forth between Tokyo and Aomori, his residence.