Two Japanese arrested for over kidney sale

A Japanese couple was arrested for allegedly purchasing a kidney for a transplant, the first arrests under a nearly decade-old law in Japan that bans the sale of organs for transplant, police said Monday.

Police arrested Suzuo Yamashita, 59, on Sunday on suspicion that he gave cash and a new car to a donor in return for a kidney, and his partner, Kazuko Matsushita, 59, for allegedly brokering the deal, said Ehime prefectural (state) police spokesman Yasushi Yamauchi.

Police also raided a hospital to look for medical records and evidence of the illegal organ trade.

Yamashita, who suffers from diabetes, underwent organ transplant surgery in September after a 59-year-old female agreed to donate her kidney, police said. The donor, whose name was not released by police, is currently hospitalized because of undisclosed health problems.

Yamauchi said the organ recipient admitted to police giving her 300,000 yen (US$2,500; Ђ2,000) in cash and a car worth 1.5 million yen (US$12,700; Ђ10,000) in exchange for her kidney, reports AP.

A 1997 law bans the sale of organs for transplants, and violators can face up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 5 million yen (US$42,400; Ђ33,500).

Many Japanese seek operations abroad, often relying on public donations to cover huge medical costs and traveling fees.