The little-known history of forced sterilization in Japan unmasked
A new governmental report reveals that forced sterilization campaigns in Japan have intended to "prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants."
Campaigners in Japan have been enraged by a government report that unmasked thousands of individuals being forcibly sterilized under a eugenics law that wasn't repealed until the 1990s, including children as young as nine.
In accordance with the law that was intended to "prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants... and to protect the life and health of the mother," around 16,500 persons were operated on between 1948 and 1996 without their consent, according to the 1,400-page study that was handed to parliament this week. The majority of victims were female.
Another 8,000 people agreed, almost definitely under duress, while over 60,000 women underwent abortions due to inherited diseases.
Shockingly, the report stated that the two nine-year-olds who underwent sterilization were a boy and a girl.
The long-running victims' battle for compensation has shown how the Japanese government mistreated those with disabilities and ongoing medical issues in the years following World War II.
2019 saw the passage of legislation from the House of Commons that offered each victim $22,800 in government compensation, a sum that protesters claimed did not adequately account for the misery they had endured. Only 1,049 people have received the money yet, according to media sources. It is worth noting that the application period for the payout is set to end in April 2024.
For decades, sterilization program victims have fought for monetary compensation and acknowledgment of the physical and mental suffering they underwent.
Four courts have so far granted victims damages, while others have sided with the government and argued that the 20-year statute of limitations had already expired. Lawyers have contended that the victims discovered the nature of their procedure after the time for filing a lawsuit had passed.
Similar policies were in existence in Sweden and Germany, although these countries have already apologized to the victims and given them compensation. The legislation of both nations was revoked decades before Japan's.
The report mentioned that some welfare facilities required sterilization as a condition for admission or for marriage under the now-defunct eugenics law, which permitted authorities to perform the procedure on people with intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses, or hereditary disorders to stop the birth of "inferior" children.
The report was hailed for showing the entire tragedy of forced sterilization, but Koji Niisato, a lawyer for the victims, said it left critical concerns unresolved. According to the Kyodo news agency, Niisato said the study "did not reveal why the law was created, why it took 48 years to amend it, or why the victims were never compensated."