Kumamoto Court Orders Govt to Pay Damages over Forced Sterilization

The Yomiuri Shimbun
One of the plaintiffs Kazumi Watanabe and their lawyers are seen in Kumamoto on Monday.

Kumamoto (Jiji Press)—A southwestern Japan court ordered the national government on Monday to pay a total of ¥22 million in damages over the forced sterilization of two people under the now-defunct eugenic protection law.

Kumamoto District Court, presided over by Judge Yuichiro Nakatsuji, found that the law was unconstitutional, and denied the application to the case of the 20-year statute of limitations on compensation claims.

The Kumamoto court was the third court, after Osaka and Tokyo high courts, and the first among district courts in the country to order the government to pay damages in a series of forced sterilization lawsuits.

In the Kumamoto suit, the two plaintiffs—Kazumi Watanabe, 78, who developed osteoarthritis as a child, and a woman in her 70s who does not have a disability herself—demanded a total of ¥66 million in damages.

According to their written complaint, Watanabe was forced to undergo sterilization around when he was 10 years old. Meanwhile, the woman, when she was in her 20s and pregnant with her second child, was forced to have an abortion and undergo sterilization, because her first daughter had a disability.

The two claimed that they were deprived of their freedom to have children and that their right to self-determination was violated.