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Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
 
 
Japan Apologizes to Sterilized Victims 04/24 06:42

   TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's government apologized Wednesday to tens of thousands 
of victims forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law, 
which was designed to "prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants," and 
promised to pay compensation.

   Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was offering "sincere remorse 
and heartfelt apology" to the victims. It came after the parliament earlier 
Wednesday enacted legislation to provide redress measures, including 3.2 
million yen ($28,600) compensation for each victim.

   An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 
1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996. The law allowed doctors 
to sterilize people with disabilities. It was quietly renamed as the Maternity 
Protection Law in 1996, when the discriminatory condition was removed.

   The redress legislation acknowledges that many people were forced to have 
operations to remove their reproductive organs or radiation treatment to get 
sterilized, causing them tremendous pain mentally and physically.

   Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Takumi Nemoto said that as head of the 
department in charge of the compensation, he will do utmost to provide the 
one-time redress money for the entitled recipients, many of them aging and 
handicapped, as soon as possible.

   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his statement issued hours later, said the 
same problem should never be repeated. "We will do all we can to achieve a 
society where no one is discriminated against, whether they have illnesses or 
handicaps, and live together while respecting each other's personality and 
individuality."

   The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal 
at the time.

   The apology and the redress law follow a series of lawsuits by victims who 
came forward recently after breaking decades of silence. That prompted 
lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to draft a compensation 
package to make amends for the victims.

   The plaintiffs are seeking about 30 million yen each ($268,000) in growing 
legal actions that are spreading around the country, saying the government's 
implementation of the law violated the victims' right to self-determination, 
reproductive health and equality. They say the government redress measures are 
too small for their suffering.

   In addition to the forced sterilizations, more than 8,000 others were 
sterilized with consent, though likely under pressure, while nearly 60,000 
women had abortions because of hereditary illnesses. However, the redress law 
does not cover those who had to abort their pregnancy, according to Japan 
Federation of Bar Associations.

   Among them were about 10,000 leprosy patients who had been confined in 
isolated institutions until 1996, when the leprosy prevention law was also 
abolished. The government has already offered compensation and an apology to 
them for its forced isolation policy.


(KA)

 
 
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