03/15/2019, 13.39
JAPAN
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Victims of forced sterilisations against government compensation

If approved, the law would offer 3.2 million yen and an official apology to each victim. About 25,000 people were subjected to eugenics procedures between 1948 and 1996. Plaintiffs complain that the bill does not indicate who is apologising and the compensation is inadequate.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Victims who were forcibly sterilised under a post-war eugenics policy criticised proposed legislation on relief measures, saying the plan is woefully insufficient in terms of compensation and accountability.

A multi-partisan group of lawmakers and a working team of ruling coalition Diet members agreed yesterday on the legislation, which would provide payments of 3.2 million yen (US$ 29,000) per victim and offer an apology.

About 25,000 people are believed to have undergone forced sterilisation under the 1948 Eugenic Protection Law designed to sterilise disabled people to prevent “the birth of inferior offspring.”

The old law was scrapped in 1996 and replaced by the Maternal Health Law, which has no eugenics provisions.

Previously, a physician had to determine whether an operation was needed, which was then approved by a prefecture-level committee. To carry out forced surgical operations, physical restraints, anesthesia and deception were allowed.

Despite the criticism, lawmakers are expected to submit the bill to the Diet in April for passage the same month. It came after victims filed lawsuits around the country against the government.

The plaintiffs argue that the Eugenic Protection Law was unconstitutional because it violated their right to decide on whether they wanted to bear children.

The victims' lawyers indicated that the proposal will not end the litigation. One problem, they say, is that the apology in the bill does not clearly state who is apologising.

A general “we” was used in the proposal to “seriously reflect and express a heartfelt apology” for the “enormous physical and psychological suffering endured” by the victims.

“Considering the fact that the state committed grave violations of human rights based on an unconstitutional law, the subject offering the apology should have been ‘the state,’” one of the lawyers said.

The compensation amount outlined in the legislation was also blasted as inadequate. “The individuals had their rights to decide to bear and raise children violated, so a one-time payment of 3.2 million yen will do nothing to recover the damage done,” said Koji Niisato (pictured left), a lawyer representing plaintiffs.

Many of the latter are seeking between 11 million yen and 38.5 million yen in compensation.

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