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Japanese Government Ordered to Pay Damages for Forced Sterilizations

Japanese Government Ordered to Pay Damages for Forced Sterilizations

Japan's Supreme Court has ordered the government to pay damages to 39 plaintiffs, victims of forced sterilizations under a 1948 eugenics law. This law, which remained in effect until 1996, permitted doctors to sterilize individuals to prevent "poor quality descendants." The government has acknowledged 16,500 forced sterilizations, including some on children as young as nine years old.

The court deemed the eugenics law unconstitutional, violating the right to equality and bodily autonomy. The government contended that the statute of limitations had expired, but the court disagreed.

These compensation claims followed a 2018 lawsuit by a woman who was sterilized at the age of 15 due to an intellectual disability. In 2019, the government issued an apology and offered lump-sum payments of ¥3.2 million per victim, but survivors sought additional compensation. High courts have awarded higher damages, ruling the statute of limitations unjust.

Similar measures in Germany and Sweden have resulted in apologies and compensation. This ruling underscores Japan's past mistreatment of individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

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