914 forced sterilization disabled victims newly identified in Japan

From The Asahi

May 28th 2018

More than 900 victims of forced sterilizations have been newly identified in 11 prefectures under the postwar Eugenic Protection Law, according to the latest Asahi Shimbun survey.

The additional records and documents found between mid-May and mid-March list 914 names of men and women in 11 prefectures, bringing the total to 4,773 in 29 prefectures.

From the end of February through mid-March, The Asahi Shimbun conducted the first round of surveys of all 47 prefectures, asking whether they have documents that can identify individuals who received operations under the law, and if so, how many.

Twenty-six prefectures replied that they have, and the number of identified victims were 3,861 in total, about 20 percent of the known overall number.

In the second round of the survey conducted this month, 11 prefectures told

The Asahi Shimbun that they have identified a total of 914 names since the last survey.

The total is about 30 percent of 16,475 patients, the number that the central government has kept track of who underwent the surgery. However, the other 70 percent remain unidentified.

On May 27, 184 lawyers formed a nationwide team at an inaugural meeting in Tokyo to take steps in seeking governmental relief for forced sterilization victims under the law, which was in effect from 1948 to 1996.

In response to the first lawsuits filed in January in Miyagi Prefecture and for expected similar suits, some prefectural and municipal governments have spontaneously started thorough searches for records that can identify patients at medical institutions and public archives.

These documents will be crucial for those victims seeking compensation and relief from the government.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare also called in March for local governments to preserve such documents and asked to report findings by the end of June.

In Miyagi Prefecture, documents that led to another 532 patients were newly discovered in a thorough search conducted at the prefectural archive in response to the lawsuit filed by a female resident of the prefecture in January over forced sterilizations. Names were recorded in four sheaves of documents titled “eugenic protection.”

In total, the number adds up to 1,391, close to 1,406, the number of operations conducted in the prefecture, according to the welfare ministry.

In Hokkaido, where the largest number of forced sterilizations were conducted, all public health centers were searched and budgetary documents that recorded payments to hospitals were found.

Upon checking the budget records against the official documents left by the eugenic protection review board that were kept on microfilm, names of 106 victims were newly identified.

The Tokyo metropolitan government conducted investigations at about 2,200 institutions, including hospitals and welfare facilities, from March. Names, dates of birth and addresses of 30 patients were found in papers, such as “report of completion of operation,” kept in the medical records stored at a hospital.

In Ishikawa Prefecture, 114 names were newly identified from the records of sterilization operations and the eugenic protection review board found at the prefectural government building in basement storage and the division office for dealing with the declining birthrate.

The Kyoto prefectural government searched the Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives from April, and found a booklet titled “notes on forced sterilization surgery.” It contained the names of seven males and five females who underwent the operation in fiscal 1958.

Eighteen prefectures, including Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, has been unable to find any records of individual names. Many have said they disposed of such documents after passing the required storage period.

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