A Voice of Our Own

DPI Japan’s resolution to request on state’s apology and compensation for victims of eugenic surgery

2018-06-04 AdvocacyStatement

1st June 2018

State of Japan, by enacting the Eugenic Protection Law (1948-1996), had legalized both eugenic surgery (sterilization) and abortion by reason of disability with the purpose of “prevent(ing) birth of inferior descendants” “from the standpoint of eugenic protection” and “protect(ing) the life and health of the mother”. Under the law more than 25,000 people were sterilized. At least 16,500 people were forcibly sterilized and 70% of them were women.

DPI Japan has sent joint reports on eugenic surgery with other organizations to the United Nations human right committees: in 1998 and 2014 to the Human Rights Committee and in 2016 to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The committees have issued recommendations for compensation to the Japan government. However, until a woman has initiated a lawsuit over a forced sterilization under the law in January 2018, the government had not indicated any intention of offering apology nor compensation.

For these 22 years after abolishing the law, victims and their supporters, especially women and people with disabilities such as the DPI Women’s Network Japan have been seeking formal research, apology and compensation to the state. At a conference in the 6th DPI-World Assembly in Sapporo of 2002, the late Ms Chizuko Sasaki who had cerebral palsy shared her experience of forced sterilization by radiation exposure, which was even against the procedure of the law, sought formal apology by the state.

Ms Chizuko Sasaki who had been suffering after effect of the radiation exposure which was conducted by medical doctors when she was 20 years old; regrettably she have passed away in August 2013.

Ms Junko Iizuka (right, not her real name) and Ms Michiko Sato (left, not her real name) at the DPI-Japan’s Annual Conference on 2nd June 2018. Ms Iizuka was 16 years old when she was taken to a clinic and forced to have the operation without knowing; Ms Sato’s sister-in-law Ms Yumi Sato was 15 when she was forced to have the operation without consent.

February 2017, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has published their opinion on seeking adequate compensation for victims of forced sterilization and abortion under the Eugenic Protection Law. Then the first lawsuit has been filed in January 2018. New three lawsuits in Hokkaido, Miyagi and Tokyo have occurred in May and more cases will be brought in June. Disability organizations such as the Japanese Federation of the Deaf as well as other organizations have also conducting their own research.

At last The Japan government has started their research on eugenic surgery though in April 2018. DPI Japan and our membership organizations with other local network have requested prefectures seeking the following points:

1.  In the process of the research an independent committee involving people with disabilities or organizations representing people with disabilities should be established in local areas

2.  A consultation service in local areas should be provided with consideration of age, disability, sex and sensitivity of the victims who may contact prefectures/ local government offices for consultation

3. Identification process of the victims should be rapid and flexible.

Eugenic surgery, which sees under the concept of eugenics regards people with disabilities as impermissible beings, is extremely serious crime. By not apologizing and compensating the victims of eugenic surgeries and abortions, Japan has been passing on the negative legacy for generations. This still cast a shadow to the society today where, on one hand, anxiety among people over reproduction of / by people with disabilities would be caused; on the other hand, the society where in 2016 the Sagamihara Knife Attack of killing 19 people with disabilities has occurred; the murder suspect expressed his eugenic ideology after the attack.

We, all of the participants of the DPI Japan’s 34th Annual Assembly (in Kanagawa) therefore requests urgent apology and compensation from the state for victims of eugenic surgery and abortion.

・・・
Reference:
Daniel Hurst. 3rd Apr 2018. The Guardian
‘They stole my life away’: women forcibly sterilised by Japan speak out 
Eugenic Protection Law subjected 16,500 people to forced sterilisation and was aimed at eliminating ‘inferior’ children”

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