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Hokkaido care facility requires residents with intellectual disabilities to practice birth control

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Hokkaido Government Office

ESASHI, Hokkaido — Residents of a group home in Hokkaido with intellectual disabilities have been required to practice birth control if they want to get married or live with a partner at the facility, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Eight such couples at the facility run by Asunaro Social Welfare Service Corporation in Esashi, Hokkaido, have agreed to the arrangement, it was learned Sunday. These measures have reportedly been in place for more than 20 years.

Hokkaido prefectural police on Sunday began questioning people related to the facility.

According to corporation director Hidetoshi Higuchi, the facility introduced the requirements in the late 1990s, having men undergo a vasectomy and women wear a contraceptive ring, among other measures. Six of the eight couples now live in private rooms.

The corporation is believed to have told people, including the couples, their families and guardians, that if the couples had children, the facility could not take care of them.

“We didn’t ask them to undergo sterilization but to prevent pregnancy,” Higuchi said in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun. “Who would be responsible for the new lives? The couples themselves accepted [the need for the requirements],” Higuchi said.