Japan Lawmakers Eye Compensation for Sterilization Victims; Relief Sought After Supreme Court Condemns Eugenics Law

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Plaintiffs in forced sterilization lawsuits hold banners reading “victory ruling” after the Supreme Court ruling in Tokyo on July 3.

A suprapartisan group of legislators on Tuesday decided to establish a project team aimed at enacting new legislation to compensate victims who were forced to undergo sterilization surgeries under the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law. The forced operations chiefly targeted people with disabilities.

This decision, made at the group’s meeting in the Diet, came after a recent Supreme Court ruling that declared such a practice unconstitutional. The team aims to submit a member-initiated bill during the extraordinary Diet session in the autumn.

“It was a very serious ruling,” said former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura, who leads the group. We must reflect on it and create a compensation scheme based on the judgment. We’d like to present a solution as soon as possible.”

The plaintiffs and their legal team attended the meeting, calling for the enactment of new legislation to compensate all victims. According to related parties, the plaintiffs plan to request to the government and the suprapartisan group that compensation should be ¥15 million for the victims themselves and more than ¥2 million for their spouses.

The project team will determine the specific amounts of compensation and the recipients, taking into account the opinions of the plaintiffs. “The law must also address those who were not part of the lawsuit,” Tamura said.

Until the law was abolished in 1996, about 25,000 people, including those with intellectual disabilities or hereditary visual or hearing impairments, were forced to undergo sterilization surgeries.

The parliamentary group also confirmed their aim to adopt a Diet resolution reflecting on the severe human rights violations caused by the defunct law.