Japanese Gov’t Sued Again Over Forced Sterilisation

TOKYO, July 4 (NNN-XINHUA) – A Japanese woman who was forcibly sterilised in 1977, under Japan’s former eugenics law, filed a lawsuit against the government yesterday for 33 million yen (307,000 U.S. dollars) in reparations, as the number of similar suits in the country continues to rise.

“I want the state to apologise. I wanted to have a third child,” the woman, in her seventies, told local media after filing the suit with the Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka District Court.

After given birth to her second child in 1977, the woman said she was told by a hospital that her visual impairment might be hereditary and could be passed on were she to have a third child.

Thereafter, she was forcibly sterilised.

She said that the eugenics law was unconstitutional and being forcibly sterilised had caused her a great deal of mental anguish.

Plaintiffs across Japan have filed 24 similar lawsuits against the government, with the first being filed in Jan, 2018.

As for the rulings, the first handed down by the Sendai District Court in May last year, recognised the eugenics law as being unconstitutional but rejected the more than 70 million yen (650,000 U.S. dollars) in damages claimed by two female senior citizens in Miyagi Prefecture.

On June 30, the Tokyo District Court ruled against a damages suit filed by a man in his late seventies, who was forcibly sterilised as a young teenager in 1957, under Japan’s eugenics protection law.

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for 30 million yen (280,000 U.S. dollars), owing to it considering the statute of limitations for damages expired 20 years after the 77-year-old was operated on without giving consent.

Many plaintiffs claimed being forcibly sterilised under the eugenics law, which was enacted in postwar Japan in 1948, and kept in place until 1996, deprived them of their constitutional right to choose whether or not to have children.

The controversial law, similar to Nazi Germany’s sterilisation law and enacted here as a population control measure, to deal with the nation’s postwar food shortage, made it possible for the state to sterilise thousands of people without receiving their consent, due to mental disabilities and other illnesses.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, up until the eugenics law was removed in 1996, of a total of 25,000 people who were sterilised for reasons of mental disabilities and other illnesses, 16,500 people were sterilised without giving their prior consent.

Legislation was enacted in Apr last year, for the government to pay 3.2 million yen (29,800 U.S. dollars) in compensation, to each person who underwent forced sterilisation.

The amount was deemed wholly insufficient by many of the plaintiffs, with the government’s apology at the time also criticised for not squarely admitting its culpability.– NNN-XINHUA