2 doctors held in suspected homicide with consent

NHK has learned that Japanese police have arrested two doctors on suspicion of killing a woman with a progressive degenerative disease at her request.

Investigative sources say the 51-year-old woman was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and told the people around her that she wanted to undergo euthanasia. ALS gradually paralyzes sufferers.

The sources identify the two doctors, who were detained on Thursday, as 42-year-old Okubo Yoshikazu from Miyagi Prefecture, and 43-year-old Yamamoto Naoki from Tokyo.

The sources say the condition of the woman suddenly worsened while she was at her home in Kyoto City last November. She was then rushed to a hospital, where she died.

The sources say medicine that the woman did not usually take was found in her body.

They say police found security camera footage showing Okubo and Yamamoto visiting her home on the day her condition worsened.

Police reportedly suspect the two doctors of administering a chemical to put her to death at her request. They were arrested on suspicion of homicide with consent.

The woman was not a patient of the two doctors. Police are looking into how they became acquainted.

In Japan, there have been two previous cases of doctors being convicted for giving a fatal dose of medicine to terminally ill patients.

The arrests made on Thursday are highly unusual because the woman was not terminally ill, and she was not their patient.