State to reject compensation claim in ‘Miyagi woman’ sterilization suit

From The Mainichi

June 8th 2018

SENDAI (Kyodo) — The state is set to reject a claim for compensation in a lawsuit filed by a woman forced to undergo sterilization under the now-defunct eugenics protection law, the plaintiff’s lawyers said Thursday.

At the first hearing slated for next Wednesday at the Sendai District Court, the state will argue it is not obliged to pay compensation to sterilized people, said the lawyers, who saw documents prepared by the state.

The woman in her 60s from Miyagi Prefecture is seeking 11 million yen ($100,000) in damages, claiming she was sterilized in 1972 on the grounds of having an intellectual disability.

The eugenics law was enacted in 1948 as a measure to control the population at a time when Japan faced a postwar food shortage. It remained in force until 1996.

The plaintiff and her lawyers say the state has legislative obligations and that inaction violates the Constitution, which guarantees the right of self-decision and equality under the law.

The state will reject that argument by citing a past Supreme Court decision that found the state should be held responsible for violating an individual’s rights only in exceptional cases, the plaintiff’s lawyers said.

The state “seems not facing the serious violation of human rights or showing any sign of repentance,” Koji Niisato, head of the counsel, said in a statement.

While similar lawsuits have been filed in other prefectures, the state is expected to seek dismissal of those claims on the same grounds.

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