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The ethical issues raised by this case are complex, as the
straightforward damnation of lying and fabricating data to produce a favourable
result does not fully cover the responsibilities and motivations of all parties
involved. If Obokata knowingly tampered with her experiment and/or results and
tried to use the paper published for her personal gain, then it could be said
that the bulk of the issue lies with her. As discussed by many media outlets
after the paper was retracted, Obokata could have had a driving motive. The
field was dominated by male scientists, and in her position it was hard to be
taken as seriously as a woman. This was shown by media discussing whether her
laboratory was decorated or what she wore to work, when this would never be
asked of male counterparts. She could have been so fiercely focussed on her
chance at a Nobel Prize, as it had been won in 2006 for similar research, that
she lost sight of her ethical responsibility to the scientific world.

Although everything could be placed on personal motivation for Obokata,
she claims she never wrote the papers to deceive anybody, and still believed in
the process of STAP. The case was mounted against her when her thesis from
university was drawn into the spotlight and more cases of plagiarism were
found. Again, she claims this was an accident and that she sent the wrong copy
to be bound in a rush to submit her work. These things make her look bad, and
are strong pieces of evidence against her, but the blame cannot be solely
pushed on her shoulders. She was working under supervision in her laboratory,
where her work should have been scrutinized and observed regularly. The paper
she sent to be published should not have passed these advisors with the degree
of plagiarism and the ground breaking results that were supposedly observed.
For this, the CDB have a responsibility to the scientific community which they
did not uphold in this instance. The company did restructure as a result of
this. Obokata was treated “like a criminal”, even when they invited her to
continue working there to prove her results were not false. She says she was
under 24 hour supervision with video surveillance, and had to be searched before
entering and exiting the lab.

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When the supervisors who were in charge of Obokata were questioned as
to why they did not question the work she produced, they simply said they trusted
her. Yoshiki Sasai evidently took the scrutiny badly, with it detrimentally affecting
his mental health and he claimed the media were one of the reasons he took his
life. The media were harsh and unrelenting, and as such they lead to one man
committing suicide. 

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