Since its foundation in 1976, Japan Society for Dying with Dignity (JSDD) has been promoting the concept of dignified death by issuing living wills seeking and supporting the right of a person to live pleasantly and die peacefully.
Japan now has the highest life expectancy in the world. No matter how healthy, we are all destined to face terminal care as a result of progressive illnesses or a sudden tragic incident. Despite your wish to end your life peacefully, you may have to end it in a way that is against your wish. Many factors contribute to this unfortunate reality such as physiciansʼ sense of obligation to save and prolong life at any cost, advancement of medical science and technology, lack of social standards in terms of the dying process, coupled with ambivalence of family members and physicians, resulting in prolonging patientsʼ lives against their wishes.
Peaceful death means living your life freely the way you choose until your last moment. How you live the end of your life should be your own choice, not forced or pressured by someone else. Being able to choose your own medical care is one of the most fundamental human rights. That is what a living will allows you to do. The living will is a tool to convey your message to your doctor, your explicit expression of refusal to accept any life prolonging measures at the terminal stage of your life while you are still in good health.
An increasing number of people prepares and possesses a living will as the significance of this human right is more widely recognized and understood. The history of our movement towards legalizing the living will is a reflection of effort that this organization has made. We will continue to work towards making our society accepting and guaranteeing that basic human right in a form of a living will.
Communicating with Societies around the World:
Societies supporting oneʼs right to die are many around the world, including Europe, the Americas, and Oceania, etc. The World Federation of Right to Die Societies was founded in 1982, of which Japan Society for Dying with Dignity (JSDD) is a proud member. From dignified death to active euthanasia, the goals and missions of the societies vary, and the world congress sponsored by different countries has been held every two years to exchange information and opinions. JSDD has sponsored the world congress twice so far, in 1992 (Kyoto) and in 2004 (Tokyo). Currently, there are 26 World Federation member countries and 52 societies altogether including the observers. In Japan, JSDD is the only member organization.
The World Federation of Right to Die Societies: http://www.worldrtd.net/