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  • Weird “Japanese Only” advertisement in U Hawaii Manoa Ka Leo student newspaper by Covance asking for medical-experiment volunteers

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 17th, 2012

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    Hi Blog.  I’m currently researching on the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus, and late last month I found this weird advertisement in the Ka Leo student newspaper (August 20, 2012, the debut issue for the start of the semester for maximum exposure):

    “Have you ever wanted to help Japanese people in a way that could make a meaningful difference?  Participating in a clinical trial can be a deeply rewarding way to possibly help advance medical breakthroughs in Japan.

    “Volunteers should be:  Healthy, between the ages of 18 and 60, born in Japan, or have both parents or all 4 grandparents born in Japan…

    “Think you can volunteer?  Great!  COVANCE, Honolulu, Hawaii”

    (Page 66.  Click on the image to expand in your browser.)

    Covance is the “Contract Research Organization for Drug Development Services”, according to their website (www.covance.com).  Also, the link they provide in their advertisement above asks three locations (UK, United States (Global), and specifically Honolulu), and has only two languages:  English and Japanese, indicating their strong links to Japan (and no doubt the subcontracting for Japanese-oriented research — tool around the Japanese version for awhile; fascinating reading).

    The upshot:  We want healthy “Japanese” for “medical breakthroughs in Japan” (as opposed to breakthroughs in medical science anywhere).  I smell patents, or at least patently racist language of “testing Japanese for Japanese since Japanese bodies are different” that infiltrates Japan’s physical and social sciences. (see for example here and here).

    What I find especially interesting about this ad is the imported racialized conceits about what defines a “Japanese”:

    No doubt due to the sensitivities of the English-language audience, there is no mention of “Japanese blood” as a qualifier.  No matter, that’s indirectly stated:  Born in Japan, both parents born in Japan, or all four grandparents (we wouldn’t want a Non-”Japanese” grandparent sullying the mix, after all) for proper thoroughbred status.

    I’m a Japanese, but I don’t qualify.  Naturalized.  So wrong blood.  Sorry.  And it still would be wrong, under the paradigms above, even if I had been born in Japan (say, to a family of diplomats or missionaries; they exist).  Imagine Covance making the same stipulations for, oh, I don’t know, sickle-cell anemia research by asking for only “African-Americans” (or bona fide “Africans”) who have been born only to “pure-black” families stretching back three generations?  That would raise some eyebrows.  But not when we transpose it onto Japan-based conceits, where the racism is embedded.

    What a pity.  Nothing quite like getting fresh young people to “volunteer” their time and bodies for big pharma’s future profits.  But what a way to do it:  By advertising in a college campus newspaper drawing lines between people under questionable scientific rubric.  I think we need better screening procedures not only within the medical community, but also within the media, so less of this racialized social science leaks into the physical sciences.  Arudou Debito

    32 Responses to “Weird “Japanese Only” advertisement in U Hawaii Manoa Ka Leo student newspaper by Covance asking for medical-experiment volunteers”

    1. debito Says:

      A friend sends (anonymized):

      I just saw your article on Covance. Definitely bad stuff going on there. I started listening to KORL (97.1) FM, which is a JPOP station. Recently I heard repeated ads in Japanese looking for healthy “Japanese or white people”. I was blown away. Fortunately in this country we have recourse. I am just too overwhelmed right now to do anything about it.

    2. Norik Says:

      I disagree here.

      I’m not a biologist, but I’ve done some research on certain ilnesses on the net (for personal purpose) and it seems that in some illnesses there is a connection between the genotype of certain race and the risk of developing certain disease. Quick Google search will show up many articles about the relation between genes and diseases.
      Here is a link to Wikipedia table , taken from an article published in scientific journal, which shows several examples of such relation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_health
      Maybe the research in the article you mention is looking for a similar connection between some typical Japanese genetical mutation and probability of developing certain disease.

      – Maybe. As long as you buy into the rubric of how they define “Japanese” (you’re buying into the fiction that “Japanese” is a “race”?). And buy into the assumption that only “pure” Japanese need apply for this kind of research (historical study indicates that Japan is not that much of a sui generis Galapagos). Sorry, but I don’t.

    3. Joe Blow Says:

      I don’t know if this ad is kosher or not, but there are many times when you’ll want people from a specific country.

      For example they want to see how a traditional Japanese diet affects certain genes throughout the generations. You find people who have grandparents who were Japanese so they ate a traditional diet so everyone is on an even keel, then you compare two sets of modern people: current Japanese who eat a traditional diet and ethnically Japanese living in different countries eating different diets.

      This may not be on the up-and-up but you really can’t say without seeing the specifics of the study.

    4. Todd Says:

      Every major pharmaceutical company in the world screens applicants for race/ethnicity when developing certain drugs (and they keep statistical records of race/ethnicity during ALL medical trials). This is simply due to the fact that different races/ethnicities are more susceptible to some diseases than others. It makes perfect sense that a drug company focusing on diseases to which Japanese are particularly vulnerable would screen for Japanese test subjects. Debito imagines a US company doing research for sickle-cell anemia looking for ‘African-American’ test subjects? Well, guess what Debito, that’s EXACTLY what happens in many studies! It’s perfectly reasonable science!

      Yes, yes, Debito will quibble over how this add defines ‘Japanese’. Whatever. The fact remains that the Japanese ARE particularly susceptible to various diseases and that any drug company, anywhere, working on medicines for these diseases might want to focus on Japanese test subjects. Nothing racist going on here. Saying the Japanese are not a distinct ‘race/ethnicity’ (why? Because they aren’t a 100% homogenous group? No ‘race/ethnicity’ is that!) is like saying that there is no such thing as ‘African-Americans’. Clearly there is, regardless of whether the definition exactly matches what Debito personally regards as a ‘valid’ definition. While he quibbles, Japanese die disproportionately due to specific genetic diseases. Screening based on race/ethnicity is a common and important part of medical research, all around the world.

      – Sources please. And obviously I’m comfortable with African/African-American as a term, as I used it myself in this blog post. Just like I’m comfortable with “Asian” as a possibility for genetic differences/markers. But I’m not comfortable with “Japanese” as anything more than a nationality or an ethnicity. And I don’t think big pharma should be either. My studies for the past 25 years have been on the abuses of genetics for political purposes; there’s plenty of evidence that science of this nature brings out a lot of bad habits in people who lack a requisite degree of mitigating/qualifying evidence or education. So either you pony up some evidence that says that “Japanese” (as a distinct genetic group) has a basis in physical science, or just agree to disagree with my “quibbling”.

    5. Joe Says:

      I don’t see any racism here. They’re asking for people born in Japan. That could be a person of any race. And in the case of sickle-cell anaemia research, it would make perfect sense to explicitly recruit only people from those areas of the world affected. What would be the point of including ethnic Scandinavians, who have no susceptibility to the disease?

    6. Michael Kruse Says:

      Have you not misread the ad? It says, “born in Japan OR…”
      as worded, it applies equally to people of any ethnicity born in Japan.

      In any case, your argument is far too conjectural. You need to know
      more about the actual before dissing it.

    7. Todd Says:

      ” So either you pony up some evidence that says that “Japanese” (as a distinct genetic group) has a basis in physical science, or just agree to disagree with my “quibbling”.”

      http://www.scs.illinois.edu/~mcdonald/WorldHaplogroupsMaps.pdf

      Satisfied?

      The Y haplogroup of Japan is quite distinctive compared with other Asian Y haplogroups, which all have a high degree of genetic overlap. The Japanese people ARE genetically distinct from other ‘Asians’. Whether or not this meets your personal definition of ‘race’, ‘ethnicity’, or any other term you prefer is irrelevant. It’s a red herring, as the original ad said nothing about ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’. YOU added those terms to the debate. All they asked for were ‘Japanese’ people for the study, and as I have shown, the ‘Japanese’ do have a particular genetic profile which differs significantly from other ‘Asians’.

      There is clearly a scientific basis for screening for ‘Japanese’ test subjects for medical research.

      – From other “Asians” sampled, that is. As one data point of evidence you cite to prove your entire case, significantly this chart doesn’t show results from the Korean peninsula (which might indicate significant overlap between Koreans and Japanese, since they have a long history of intermixing). Sorry, not satisfied.

      Again, we shouldn’t confuse “Japanese” the nationality with “Japanese” the genetically-distinct race, because Japanese the genetically-distinct race simply doesn’t exist. We can’t break “racial” distinctions (however defined: I choose social construct, geneticists may choose “some biological markers” construct) down this far. Even some geneticists won’t, as some will agree that race is more about social science than physical science; as J.C. King (The biology of race, 1981), himself a geneticist, aptly notes:

      Both what constitutes a race and how one recognizes a racial difference are culturally determined. Whether two individuals regard themselves as of the same or of different races depends not on the degree of similarity of their genetic material but on whether history, tradition, and personal training and experiences have brought them to regard themselves as belonging to the same groups or to different groups… there are no objective boundaries to set off one subspecies from another. (156-7)

      See also D.J. Witherspoon et.al, Genetic Similarities Within and Between Human Populations, Genetics, 176(1), May 2007, at 351-59), who say in their abstract, “The proportion of human genetic variation due to differences between populations is modest, and individuals from different populations can be genetically more similar than individuals from the same population.”

    8. Paul Says:

      Debito,

      Do races have signature genes? Are behavioral and thought patterns observably different by race and gender? To be honest, I am skeptical of the connection based on my own research in the field of comparative political economy. In at least one critical case study, there tends to be observable behavioral patterns and outcomes across countries under certain circumstances. That said, I am neither an anthropologist nor a psychologist nor a geneticist nor a medical researcher, so the responsible approach to take before making sweeping statements about signature genes, race, and behavioral patterns is always to see what the consensus view is on this subject in the various fields before proceeding.

      I consulted JSTOR last night out of curiosity, and numerous refereed articles in scholarly journals have been written over the past twenty years by anthropologists, psychologists, physicians, and geneticists who all do research in this area.

      Leonard Lieberman, Blaine W. Stevenson and Larry T. Reynolds published a fascinating article on this subject titled “Race and Anthropology: A Core Concept without Consensus” in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Jun., 1989), pp. 67-73. Page 69 has a table that supports the article’s title. When asked the question, “Are there biological races within the species Homo sapiens?”, 50% of Biological anthropologists agreed, 8% were neutral, and 42% disagreed. Meanwhile, 31% of Cultural anthropologists agreed, 17% were neutral, and 52% disagreed. Overall, 147 biological anthropologists and 151 cultural anthropologists were surveyed.

      Within psychology, too, there is an equally longstanding debate in the major psychology journals concerning whether large, fundamental differences between races and genders exist based on behavioral patterns. A few examples:

      Duckitt, J. (1992). Psychology and prejudice: A historical analysis and integrative framework. American Psychologist, 47, 1182-1193.

      Eagly, A. (1995). The science and politics of comparing women and men. American Psychologist, 50, 145-158.

      Hyde, J., & Plant, E. (1995). Magnitude of psychological gender differences: Another side to the story. American Psychologist, 50, 159-161.

      Zuckerman,M. (1990). Some dubious premises in research and theory on racial differences. American Psychologist,45, 1297-1303.

      To be sure, there are many more psychology studies published in refereered journals along this vein. Like in the professional field of anthropology, there does not seem to be a consensus in the field of psychology on races, signature genes and observable behavioral patters.

      Of course, then there is the big field of genetics (of which I know very little). What I do know is limited to the research review of the genetics literature by Michael Levin. Michael Levin published a thought-provoking article with the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies (CCVS) in the Behavior and Philosophy Journal. The title is “The Race Concept: A Defense” (Behavior and Philosophy, Vol. 30 (2002), pp. 21-42. Levin is neither a geneticist nor a medical doctor, but he draws the reader’s attention to the conventional view popularized by a few geneticists and their studies, and then calls it into question. Among the studies he cites that challenges the conventional wisdom, are (among others):

      Exner, D., Dries, D. L, Domanski, M.J. & Cohn, Jn. (2001). Lesser response to angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor therapy in Black as compared with White patients with left ventricular dysfunction. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 344, pp. 1351-1357.

      Yancy, C., Fowler, M., Colucci, W., Gilvert, E., Bristow, M., & Cohn, J (2001). Race the response to adrengergic blockade with carvedilol in patients with chronic heart failure. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 344, pp. 1393-1365.

      I understand that your blog has a specific ideological starting point (“race is a social construct”). It is your blog, of course; that is fine. However, if you intention is to start with this assumption in a formal doctoral thesis for the construction of a political argument or, more dangerously, argue from the assumption that “science” (however loosely defined) has rejected the concept of race and considers it a social construct, then it seems to me that you are on more shaky ground.

      These are not our fields, but I respect the fact that there seem to be earnest disagreements among professionals in major refereed journals on these controversial issues that make me take a more humble stance and want to question anyone absolutely overconfident in one direction or another. Perhaps you should adopt the same caution, too, especially if you are in a doctoral program.

    9. Getchan Says:

      I think I know what they’re after.
      Some time ago, when the birth control pill was still barred from widespread distribution, one of the GOJ arguments was that “Japanese are different”, so Western pharmaceutical companies couldn’t break into the Japanese market. Strangely enough, that “difference” played no role when it came to legalizing Viagra sales in Japan…
      German pharmaceutical companies were recruiting Japanese females among university students in Germany to conduct research to be presented to GOJ officials.
      I think that those old GOJ arguments, that “Japanese are different” are at the core of this newspaper ad, and that no racial slurs or whatever are intended. The company doing the field research is once again trying to prove the GOJ wrong, and we should let them do their job, rather than nitpicking…

      – I doubt they’re trying to prove the GOJ wrong. I think they’re just on contract from Japanese funders and are doing research under Japanese rubric of “if tests are not conducted on Japanese, then the research is inapplicable to Japan and the products are not marketable in Japan,” as you say above. That’s not science. That’s business infused with politics.

    10. Tammy Says:

      Have you asked Covance directly what their rationale is? They might (or might not) have legitimate reasons.

    11. Michael Says:

      I work in the pharmaceutical industry making deals between US, European, and Japanese pharmaceutical companies. While I appreciate the work you do here Debito, this one is not an issue.

      For drugs to be approved in Japan, there needs to be a clinical trial program that is either conducted fully in Japan or where Japan participates as one of the countries in a worldwide trial. There are certain diseases and drug sensitivities in local drug populations. Some of the oft-mentioned ones are real (like that a certain percentage of Asians are missing the enzyme to break down alcohol) and certain are not (like Japanese have longer intestines).

      In any major market country, there needs to be a certain amount of that country’s people in a clinical trial. So what you saw is actually a good thing and represents progress. Let me explain. Doctors in Japan are less entrepreneurial than some of their US and European counterparts, so they are less likely to be able to see their regular patients and on the side manage a clinical trial site (for which, like other doctors around the world, they are compensated). Simply, Japanese doctors and hospitals have less experience in being clinical trial sites. This is a major contributor to the “drug lag” which is another way of saying that Japan often has to wait 5 to 10 years more to get drugs approved that already have been approved in major Western markets.

      To overcome this lag, the Japanese drug approval authorities have decided they will allow data from ethnic Japanese who live in other places (notably Hawaii, California, Texas, etc.) so if you are a US company trying to get a drug approval in Japan, you can take advantage of US doctors who can enroll patients at US speed but get blood level and dosing data that is relevant to the Japanese population. This is a good thing…You can develop your drug at US speed but have data in the Japanese population. There is nothing wrong or racist about this. If they didn’t allow this, people in Japan may have to wait another 5 years or more than they already do to get new drugs.

      – Thanks very much for explaining from an insider’s perspective, and so unconfrontationally. Appreciate it.

      Again, I’m fine with the concept of “ethnic Japanese.” But “ethnic Japanese” isn’t what’s being asked for here. The way the paradigms are set up, essentially if you’re “ethnic Japanese” but with “mixed blood”, you’re out. Again, the rubric calls for purity of “Japanese blood”, which is not the way anyone, least of all scientists, should be defining “Japanese” anymore in the 21st Century.

    12. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Todd, #4

      “Screening based on race/ethnicity is a common and important part of medical research, all around the world.”

      To what ends? Political abuse of genetics or billion-dollar revenues for for-profit research foundation like Kaiser & Permanente or NIH!? And it’s ok for them to see people suffer by denying them the means of access to available medical service, due to their socio-economic or legal status or ethnicity? No matter what reason you may have, it doesn’t go any further than a phony assumption that people who don’t belong to race X deserve the disservice and the consequence because they are not “pure” subject.

      @Joe, #5

      You’re right. I don’t see Covance deliberately promotes racism in the advertisement. But still, their advertising message is misleading. How can they collect substantial amount of samples outside Japan under these conditions that foreign-born Japanese cannot even qualify for the research? It’s pointless, and, totally, a bad science.

    13. Toby Says:

      I have to disagree with you here. And if you did your research you would find that Covance is also seeking Caucasian volunteers as I seen in their Honolulu Star Advertiser and radio ads. With Japanese as one of the highest percentage of citizen races in Hawaii, it makes sense that they target them specifically for studies, which is helping their research for medical breakthroughs in the Japan market. Every race is different, they eat different, genetics are different, etc. When I visited the English website, Covance has clinics all over the United States, and I assume that some are looking for other ethnic backgrounds at their clinics, while Hawaii looks for Japanese since we have an abundance of them living and going to school here.

      – I did my research. But “Caucasian volunteers” and “Japanese volunteers” are incomparable. “Race”, “nationality”, and “ethnicity” (not to mention “diet”, which is genetically unrelated to all three) are all different things, and in these trials, “Caucasian” is not being treated as a nationality (just as “Japanese” should not be treated as a “race”). Let’s not mix our paradigms.

    14. Darkrider Says:

      First let me say hello and that this is my first time replying to your blog. While I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and I share similar views on many of the subjects you address I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one. As someone who’s volunteered for such studies in the past I’ve seen posts like this on places like craigslist that have asked for people of a certain ethnicity for clinical research. Frankly I don’t see any racial undertones in this matter(at least none that are deliberate). The only troublesome part of this article is as loverilakkuma pointed out the requirements for the study are misleading and might actually turn away eligible I volunteers. I’ve come to respect your judgement on many of the issues presented in your blog but this time I think you may be looking too far into this.

    15. Fight Back Says:

      Looks a little to me that the apologists are using this as a wedge issue. I’d like to look at the facts. One the one hand, we have Debito at the source, with over 25 years of qualified study in this field, and on the other we have what looks to me like hearsay and glib opinion!

      Yeah, I think I’m gonna go with Debito’s call on this one, it reeks too much of nihonjinron and Exclusionism to be anything ‘innocent’ (very typical apologist excuse). As Debito said, this would cause an uproar in mainstream countries, if it were in reference to any other modern ethnic grouping not related to race. I think a few commenters here need to be schooled on some of the realities that Debito in particular, has been instrumental in unearthing.  

    16. betty boop Says:

      as a caucasian in japan – just to let you know i am always thankful to doctors who take my race into consideration when prescribing medications. there is a difference in how it is tolerated and the dosages. but agree that japanese is not a race by itself – but part of the asian contingent.

    17. Justin Says:

      I think most of you are missing the point here, and perhaps the conversation has gotten a little overly complicated.

      Here’s the problem: By advertising for people born in Japan, all of whose grandparents were also born in Japan, they are not at all targeting any biologically distinct group of people. Why? ….

      If they are looking for racial phenotype, then FAIL, because they aren’t specifying a particular race. There are tons of people not of Japanese race whose whole family was born in Japan.

      If they are looking for environmental influence like diet, then FAIL again, because they are advertising in Hawaii, where everyone is… uh… Living in Hawaii!! (or may have lived their life somewhere else)

      Their ad is at best ineffective, and more likely cleverly contrived to get Japan nationals of Japanese-race living in Hawaii, and exclude Japanese-race Americans, regardless of their genetic qualification.

      Kudos to Debito for clear insight and fortitude in standing his ground. Wake up and read between the lines folks.

    18. Joe Says:

      “One the one hand, we have Debito at the source, with over 25 years of qualified study in this field, and on the other we have what looks to me like hearsay and glib opinion!
      Yeah, I think I’m gonna go with Debito’s call on this one….”

      Well there’s a surprise.
      Debito, do you not get seriously embarrassed publishing this guy’s posts? If you created your own sock-puppet (I’m sure you wouldn’t), you’d do a better job of making it a little more balanced in its comments.
      Vigorous, informed debate is one thing. Fawning, vomit-inducing sycophancy is quite another.

      Just had to get it off my chest (again!), sorry. I promise never to post regarding this ever again.

      – Sorry, Joe, it’s not me sock-puppeting.

      Anyway, why is it that we have such a low tolerance for the few posts of praise (posters get accused of sycophancy), while we have such a high tolerance for the critical (often nasty and ad hominem) posts? (We accuse the posters of being “haters”, but that rarely deters them.)

      It’s odd: Why should I be any more “embarrassed” by praise than by criticism? Perhaps because the Internet has long since normalized nasty discourse. We expect it far more than the opposite.

      Anyway, back on topic.

    19. Justin Says:

      Joe, you suffer from a socio-cultural habit of self deprecation as indication of integrity.

      – Let’s stay on track with the topic of this blog post.

    20. Chris Dunn Says:

      The part that makes me confused is the ad asks for only healthy people. If the tests are being conducted on people that have 4 Japanese grand parents born in Japan or were born in Japan themselves what part does being healthy play in it all. Just because you are ill wouldn’t change your genes would it? If Japanese indeed do have something different about them does sickness then exclude you from that special unique Japanese group? Or even worse do you need to be healthy to withstand everything the “doctors” are going to do to you? Also the initial part of the ad asking people if they want to help Japanese in a way that could make a meaningful difference is bizarre. What other way would there be? Help in a way that makes no difference at all and wastes everyone’s time? Good luck to those guinea pigs I think they are in for a bumpy ride.

    21. Michael Kruse Says:

      I don’t mean to be “shitsukoi”, but no-one has replied to my point. Because the ad says “Born in Japan OR, not AND, it does not in fact specify Japanese genes, ethnicity, “race” or “blood”. Are we suggesting this is simply an error?
      It seems to me that we are loading a lot onto this ad on the basis of our own assumptions.
      I don’t know what they’re after, but just as the ad is worded, it isn’t Japanese as defined by “blood” or “race”.

      – I have already addressed this point, when I said in my original post, “No doubt due to the sensitivities of the English-language audience, there is no mention of “Japanese blood” as a qualifier. No matter, that’s indirectly stated: Born in Japan, both parents born in Japan, or all four grandparents (we wouldn’t want a Non-”Japanese” grandparent sullying the mix, after all) for proper thoroughbred status.” Maybe that’s why you didn’t get any replies to your point.

    22. dude Says:

      Since you are in Hawaii, try to listen to 97.1 fm. It is a Japanese FM station. They advertise (in Japanese), for staff, that must be between the ages of 20 to 50 (this is age discrimination), Japanese (racial discrimination)….. I honestly don’t think they are aware (since they are Japanese) of American anti-discrimination laws.

      It would be interesting to see what, if anything, the government (federal or state) will do.

      cheers!

      – Yes, quite. I just checked KORL 97.1 FM’s Facebook page, and they had a guest on August 29. Here’s the text:

      Today’s J-Morning guest, Nobuko san from COVANCE.
      今日のJ-Morning、日本人治験ボランティア募集中のコバンスのNobukoさんをお迎えしました。
      が、ここで悲しいお知らせが…(;-;)。コバンスのホノルル支社は今年いっぱいで閉鎖することが決定したそうです。ハワイ在住の方で参加を考えていた皆さん、今回がラストチャンスになります。現在引き続き、最大$3000以上の報酬の治験ボランティアなど募集中。お問い合わせはNobukoさん直通番号808-441-6332へ。ウェブサイトは http://www.testwiththebest.com
      あなたの参加が、医学の発達という社会への貢献に繋がります。

      Sad news here… Covance honolulu will close down at the end of this year. But they still have a couple of clinical trials that need Japanese volunteers. You will be paid more than $3000 from some of those.
      If you’ve thought about participating in a COVANCE paid clinical trial, the time is now.
      Call today for more information 808-441-6332 or go to the website http://www.testwiththebest.com.
      Your participation could one day benefit millions of people.

      Meanwhile, please send us your source for the age and nationality barriers in the hiring practices of KORL.

    23. Justin Says:

      Dude… You are referring to KORL’s hiring practices, not those of Covance advertised on KORL, right?

      KORL 97.1 is also streamed online. Someone needs to start a stream recorder to get the evidence and teach these people a lesson.

    24. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I just found the source about patient eligibility for volunteers. It says, “1st-3rd generation Japanese, age 20-55″; and “1st generation Japanese and Caucasians, age 18-60.” This means the vast majority of young Japanese-Americans (i.e., 3rd or later, mixed-blood, multi-racial) will not be qualified while 100% Caucasians are an exception (What about the descendants of Eastern European, let’s say, Polish or Hungarian?). My advice: don’t tell the staff that the patients are the grandkids of Homer Plessy. They will likely be kicked out because the institution sets their mentality clock back to the Jim Crow era. Ouch!

      The Covance may (or may not) have decent records on medical/clinical studies, but the guideline for the selection of subject is disconcerted and nonsensical. They should send their staff to Japan to collect enough samples for this research.

      http://www.centerwatch.com/clinical-trials/listings/location/united-states/HI/Honolulu

      – My suspicion is that COVANCE is only following the terms of their contract from Japan. Caucasians are mongrels, so shikata ga nai. But “Japanese” are supposedly “pure” (in blood, if not in terms of (obviously hermetically-sealed) monocultural society), so the sampling must also be “pure”, in order to reflect (and have currency within) Japan’s scientific community’s mindset towards “Japanese”. As you say, bad science.

    25. debito Says:

      – From a friend, anonymized. Debito

      Debito,

      Tonight (9/19/12) at 8:17pm, the following was announced on KORL 97.1:

      HHawaii Media Radio Stations, KORL 101.1 FM, Smooth Jazz 101.5 FM, JPOP 97.1 FM, KPOP 107.5 FM, and KPHI 1130 AM / 96.7 FM announced today that, in keeping with the rules and regulations of the Federal Communication Commission, they are seeking to involve qualified community groups in the dissemination of all job vacancy information at radio station. If your qualified community group or government bureau would like to be kept informed of all full time job openings at radio stations KORL 101.1 FM, KORL 101.5 FM, KORL 97.1 FM, KORL 107.5 FM, or KPHI 1130 AM / 96.7 FM, contact Johnny Mairo at HHawaii Media, 900 Fort Street Mall, Suite 450 Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. The stations will put your group on a list of qualified community groups, which will automatically receive notification of all future full time job vacancies at HHawaii Media.

      Looks like someone has put them on notice!
      ENDS

    26. Fight Back Says:

      Great work Debito! Another example of how you are making positive changes in this arena and all the apologists can do is deny, deny, deny. 

      If Debito can effect this much change in Hawaii by himself, imagine what we could achieve in Japan as a community!

      That’s why I don’t believe this forum is the place to attack Debito personally or disagree with his research findings. If you want to be provocative and controversial, you are welcome to post at the stalker site. I think this also harks back to the article on humility and how difficult it is to tout your own horn when you have a group like the Tepido Twelve out there belittling you. The last thing Debito needs are the same nasty attitudes on his own website, it just takes away from our power to effect change. 

      I know, my own support of Debito has made me a target on the stalker site, framed in the most negative and insulting terms. I’d like to know if these anti-human rights apologists would be so brave in the light of day.

      Keep it up Debito!

      – Thanks. So will they. As a tangent, Head Stalker KY Nicolson is still at it, keeping tabs on me. Just got this notification in my email box today, where he’s still obsessively checking my Linkedin profile. But we digress. Back on topic.

    27. Joe Says:

      @Chris
      “The part that makes me confused is the ad asks for only healthy people. If the tests are being conducted on people that have 4 Japanese grand parents born in Japan or were born in Japan themselves what part does being healthy play in it all?”

      Nobody experiments on sick people, unless it’s for research designed to help their specific condition. Not only is it unethical to expose an already ill person to untested drugs or abnormal physical environments, but their disease might well intefere in unforseen ways with the results, making them useless.

    28. Kaoru Says:

      As I understand it, it’s a legal requirement to get medicines approved in Japan. If you have a drug that’s already tested and in use in the west and you want to sell it in Japan, you’re required to carry out comparison tests between a sampling of healthy “western” (white) men and “Japanese” (natively) men within a certain age, height, weight etc. to ensure that the results are consistent within a certain margin of error. The law is no doubt there to justify import restrictions rather than to further any kind of xenophobic agenda, much like the “Japanese snow is different” argument that we all laugh at now. I’m sure this particular request is to accommodate that restriction.

    29. ben Says:

      Mind you I’m not a human geneticist (plants) but a quick search of pubmed brought up a clear possibility to me: why not use Koreans? Most Japanese are genetically indistinguishable from Koreans, well except for the ones far north and south thanks to the Ainu and Okinawans populations (there goes the idea they are all mono-ethnic). So if they are trying to find some kind of japanese-ish drug or disease Koreans should work fine as an experimental model. Then again maybe it is all for a legitimate genetics study.

    30. David Says:

      When one sees a mixed race child and hears that “His father is American”, then what race do people assume? They think Caucasian. American=Caucasian in many minds, due to racism/TV/politics/ignorance. Ditto for “Japanese.” Most people, Caucasian or not, do not think the term “Japanese” applies to naturalized Caucasian citizens of Japan. Sadly, due to twisted history, citizenship and race are intertwined.

      Being offended when the ignorant masses equate nationality to ethnicity and citizenship is one’s own preference, but the reality is that a few generations of education will be needed to convince people that not all Americans are white folks and not all Japanese citizens are Asians.

      – Right. But what this blog post is getting at is, should this sentiment “due to racism/TV/politics/ignorance” be exported to a place like The United States, where “citizenship and race are intertwined” much, much less? I think that education HAS already been going on for a few generations here. Hardly anyone needs convincing that “not all Americans are white folks”. Let’s keep your comment in context, please.

    31. Tokyo_Dan Says:

      I work for a Fortune 500 international pharma company with a subsidiary in Tokyo. I don’t know exactly what Covance is doing. Did you try contacting them directly? We generally are fairly forthcoming about trials we run unless you want to know exactly the mechanism of a drug/technology we are testing preclinically. In fact, there are several publicly accessible databases that list information about ongoing clinical trials. However, it is possible that they are simply confirming something found in a GWAS data set or designing a test for a particular SNP that they think can be used for diagnostic purposes. A lot of the original background genomic data was, unfortunately, generated on white Americans and Europeans. As a result, this has resulted in a lot of false positives now that we’ve started to screen non-white populations. So, we often have to gather new background data from specific groups in order to determine if an SNP is endemic to a population or if it might contribute to a pathology. SNP differences do exist between Japanese and other Asians on average, and there are indeed some diseases with different prevalences between different Asian self-identified ethnicities.

      While I fully agree Japanese are really a heterogeneous population (just look carefully around Tokyo and you can see it in an instant, though the average Japanese person will deny it when you broach the topic), we as scientists cannot force a population to accept the identity we give them. We have to deal, at least for the time being, with the labels people give themselves. Besides, Tokyo residents were one of the original non-white and Asian populations we obtained data from as it was easy at the time, so they continue to be a proxy for Asian populations for many experimenters for that simple reason.

      This is not a trivial issue. While in the US, my Japanse wife had a difficult to diagnose condition (in fact still not diagnosed five years later). She was escalated up to a university professor MD who suggested she be sequenced for “a mutation” that might cause her condition he recently read about in a mid-tier medical journal. She was sequenced and found to have “the mutation.” He began immediately a fairly aggressive treatment that would have pretty much been high levels of anti-inflammatory drugs for the rest of her life. I got home, did a little in silico research of my own, and quickly realized that “the mutation” was actually a genetic variant found within 94% of all Japanese women. The problem was all the research and all the background data came from white Americans. This particular genetic variant was found in less that 0.1% of white Americans and happened to correlate to a similar pathology experienced b my wife, but obviously in the end, was a spurious correlate.

      – Thanks very much for your comments. Please define your abbreviations for a general audience?

    32. Tokyo_Dan Says:

      I apologize. GWAS = genome-wide association study, a method of mass screening genetic variation (usually in the form of SNPs) across the entire genome between multiple populations in an attempt to identify rare genetic variants that co-segregate or associate with a phenotype in a particular population of interest, e.g. a group that all suffer a particular disease. SNP = single-nucleotide polymorphism, simply a difference in DNA nucleotide sequence (A,T,C,G) at a particular location across a population. And MD, of course, is medical doctor.

      – Thanks. I fully understand that if you live and breathe jargon/abbreviations for many years, one forgets that others haven’t. It’s getting tough for me to talk about racial discrimination in simple constructs anymore because I have years of experience and now a jargon-filled academic background in it. Anyway, back to the topic.

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