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Japan. Forced sterilization of the disabled and sick after World War II. The Tokyo government released the report

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Tokyo authorities have released a new report revealing details about the sterilization of 25,000 women. people in the years 1948-1996. The procedure, which is no longer in force, was intended to prevent, among other things, the birth of “poor quality offspring”. The youngest people subjected to it are two children aged 9 years.

The report was presented to the Japanese parliament on Monday. It contains detailed information on the forced sterilization of 16.5 thousand. people, mostly women, in the years 1948-1996. Another 8,000 of people were supposed to consent to sterilization, although most likely they gave it under pressure. A total of 25,000 have been sterilized over 48 years. people, many of whom had no idea that they were undergoing such a procedure – the report’s findings are quoted by the media, including The Guardian and the BBC.

The document said that this action was to “prevent the birth of poor quality offspring” and “protect the lives and health of mothers”. The information that caused the most controversy is the fact that among the youngest people sterilized there were two children, a boy and a girl aged 9, who underwent surgery in the 1960s and 1970s. Among the victims of the procedure there are also children who were in their teens.

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Japan. Eugenics law was supposed to eliminate “inferior children”

The report noted that the sterilization was carried out under eugenics laws that no longer apply. It allowed the sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness or genetic diseases in order to prevent the birth of “inferior” children. It was also intended to limit population growth in the face of food shortages after the war. Sterilization was required for accessing certain welfare programs or getting married. Some people undergoing the procedure were told, for example, that they would undergo a routine procedure, such as an appendectomy, and were therefore unaware that they were being sterilized, the document said.

Following the publication of the report, Japan’s chief secretary of the government, Hirokazu Matsuno, told a news conference that the Tokyo authorities “have sincere reflection and deeply apologized” for the “enormous pain” suffered by the victims of forced sterilization. The Guardian notes that victims have been demanding redress for many years, a reminder of the way Japan treated the disabled and chronically ill after World War II.

Lawyer Koji Niisato, representing the victims, welcomed the government’s release of accurate information about the practice, but noted that “the report does not indicate why the eugenics law was created, why it took 48 years to change it, and why the victims were never compensated.” According to the law passed in 2019 by the parliament, each victim was to receive compensation in the amount of 3.2 million yen (today it is about PLN 90.6 thousand), although according to the victims, this amount did not reflect the suffering they suffered. The deadline for submitting applications for payment of funds expires in April 2024, only 1,049 people have received the money so far. Additionally, many courts recognizethat the 20-year limitation period has expired and they are not awarding damages.

Last month, a court rejected a claim for compensation for 77-year-old Junko Iizuki, who was sterilized at the age of 16 without even knowing it. “The eugenics operation has robbed me of all my humble dreams of a happy marriage and children,” she told reporters. “When I told my husband, whom I trusted, that I had surgery and couldn’t have children, he left me and asked for a divorce. I became mentally ill and was unable to work. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The operation turned my life upside down.

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Guardian, BBC, Japan Times

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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