Negotiating the Unusual, Classifying the Unnatural
The Reporting and Investigation of Medical-related Deaths in England and Japan
This chapter compares the Japanese system of reporting and investigating medical related deaths with the coronial system as practiced in England and Wales, focusing on the categorisation of deaths as ‘unnatural’ or ‘unusual’ – terms which have become increasingly problematic, ambiguous, and difficult to apply in a context of rapidly changing medical technologies. The chapter examines the legislation and institutionalised frameworks for investigation of medical related deaths in Japan and in England and Wales, and uses this material to cast light on broader issues. Some key questions here are definitions of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ and the ways in which the idea of ‘culture’ may be deployed in debates over the classification and appropriate investigation of medical related death. The chapter also considers variations in notions of personhood and agency, and understandings of the body, and the ways in which globalised systems of knowledge, in this case medical and legal understandings of the body, and of death, may be refracted and negotiated in particular local settings.