By Barrier Free Japan
December 28 2022
JAPAN – On December 18 the ‘group home’ operated by Asunaro Social Welfare Service Corporation in Esashi, Hokkaido, admitted that it had made sterilization a condition for mentally disabled couples for more than 20 years.
The Asunaro Social Welfare Service Corporation operates group homes for people with intellectual disabilities and other welfare facilities in the town of Esashi and elsewhere in Hokkaido. About 410 people use its facilities.
According to the corporation, its homes have since the late 1990s asked male residents to undergo a vasectomy and female residents to use a contraceptive ring if they want to marry or live with a partner at these facilities.
It was also reported that:
“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.”
Eight couples had agreed to the treatment, in which men had to undergo a vasectomy and women had to wear a contraceptive ring.
December 20 2022
The group care home in Hokkaido states that: “Birth control was only proposed “as an option” for residents of group homes with intellectual disabilities and residents agreed to it themselves, according to the director of the social welfare corporation that operates the homes.”
Director Hidetoshi Higuchi defended his organization’s actions at a press conference:
“It is quite natural for the disabled to want to date members of the opposite sex when they became independent economically and can afford to do so. We proposed the birth control as an option, but they agreed to it themselves. We could never do such a thing without their consent.”
December 21 2022
In the wake of abuse cases of people with disabilities, Hokkaido Prefectural Government will survey all facilities in January 2023. Governor Naomichi Suzuki announced to reporters in Tokyo on the evening of December 20 that:
“If it is confirmed that the operators are not providing proper welfare services for persons with disabilities, we will consider necessary measures such as recommendations and orders based on the Comprehensive Support for Persons with Disabilities Act”.
December 26 2022
On December 26, the Hokkaido prefectural government initiated a legal audit of a group home in Esashi Town, Hokkaido, after the facility proposed sterilization procedures for mentally disabled residents who wished to get married or live together.
Approximately four hours after Hokkaido and Esashi Town officials entered the group home shortly before 1:30 p.m. on December 26, they loaded cardboard boxes, believed to contain materials from the facility, into a car.
After the audit, Fusae Imai, director of the Health and Environment Department of the Hiyama Promotion Bureau in Hokkaido, told reporters that she could not answer questions about what kind of materials were loaded into the car.
By switching from voluntary interviews an to audit, they will be able to ask staff and residents to cooperate with interviews and provide materials in accordance with the law.