30 November 2020
OSAKA – In a lawsuit filed against the Japanese government by a married couple and a woman who were sterilized under the now-defunct eugenics protection law (1948-1996), the judge ruled the law unconstitutional but dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for a total of 5.5 million yen (approx. $53,000) in damages on Nov. 30.
The eugenics protection law was a legislator-led law enacted in 1948 for the purpose of preventing the birth of children who are “faulty” from a eugenics point of view. Its predecessor, the National Eugenic Law, was modelled after Nazi Germany’s sterilization law, and is based on the eugenic thinking that the genes of highly competent people should be protected.
A total of three people, a man in his 80s, his wife in his 70s, and a woman (77) living in Kinki with intellectual disabilities, said that it was unconstitutional to be forced to undergo sterilization under the former Eugenic Protection Law. On the 30th, Judge Jun Hayashi at the Osaka District Court ruled that the old law was unconstitutional in a lawsuit seeking damages totaling 55 million yen from the government. This is the second case of admitting unconstitutionality following the Sendai District Court decision.
Of the three plaintiffs in the latest suit, a 77-year-old woman with intellectual disability in the Kinki region claimed she was sterilized forcibly under the law at a hospital in the city of Osaka, when she was aged 21 and 22, according to the complaint.
The other two were a woman in her 70s and her husband in his 80s in Osaka Prefecture, both with hearing impairments. The wife was allegedly sterilized at a hospital in Kinki in 1974.
The three claimed they lost the opportunity to have children and suffered emotional damage, seeking a total of 55 million yen in damages.
The claims for compensation of the three persons were all dismissed because the “exclusion period” of 20 years from the surgery to the filing of the complaint had passed and disappeared.
Giving the reason for the decision, Judge Hayashi pointed out that the old law was “extremely inhuman and discriminatory, deciding that a particular disease was bad.”