December 18 2022
HAKODATE,– A group home in Hokkaido, northern Japan, has required residents with intellectual disabilities to undergo sterilization treatment if they want to get married or live together with a partner at the facility, its operator admitted Sunday.
The government will likely look into the case as Japan has been under international scrutiny over its past policy that ran counter to efforts to improve the lives and societal participation of people with disabilities.
The facility operated by Asunaro Social Welfare Service Corporation in Esashi, Hokkaido, has made sterilization a condition for mentally disabled couples for more than 20 years.
It said eight such couples had agreed to the treatment, in which men had to undergo a vasectomy and women had to wear a contraceptive ring.
Those who refused the treatment were asked to leave the facility, and job assistance was terminated, which could constitute a violation of reproductive rights or the right to decide whether to bear and raise children.
“Who will take responsibility when they become unable to raise children? We cannot guarantee the life of newborns,” Hidetoshi Higuchi, who heads the corporation, told Kyodo News.
An official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said, “Human dignity should be protected regardless of whether or not they have a disability,” adding that the facility’s treatment “is inappropriate if it is true.”
In August, Japan underwent a policy review by a U.N. committee that deals with the rights of people with disabilities at a time when issues such as past forced sterilization under the now-defunct eugenics protection law were being highlighted.
It was Japan’s first review since it ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2014.