From The Asahi
December 27 2022
JAPAN – The operator of a welfare facility for people with intellectual disabilities in Esashi, Hokkaido, suggested sterilization procedures for residents hoping to live together or get married.
If the operator effectively forced them to take such measures, this is a serious violation of human rights. The Hokkaido government should act swiftly to clarify what actually happened.
Eight couples underwent sterilization procedures in response to the operator’s suggestion.
The operator of the group home, a social welfare corporation, insists it never compelled anyone to become sterilized nor required sterilization operations as a condition for continued use of its services.
The men in the eight couples received vasectomies to prevent their sperm from being released into semen. Under the maternity protection law, men undergo this operation if pregnancy or child bearing could threaten the lives of their spouses.
We doubt there was a reasonable need for the men at the group home to receive vasectomies.
The operator also stressed that children under 18 are not eligible to live in a group home for people with intellectual disabilities.
The Hokkaido government should examine and determine whether the operator’s emphasis on this policy made the couples think they would be unable to raise their children or be denied the facility’s services.
The local administration should also look into whether the group home provided effective counseling concerning the couples’ desires for the future and introduced them, if necessary, to other facilities and services.
Another question is whether the home offered sufficient information for residents to make educated decisions on their own.
The case underscores the grim reality of welfare services for disabled people in Japan. Welfare systems for people with disabilities do not offer much support to residents who want to raise children.
Under the current system, group homes are designed to accept only people aged 18 or older with little consideration to the possibility that residents may want to live with their children.
There are cases in Japan where people with disabilities live with their children in apartment houses.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has issued a notice about an available service to help such people with household chores.
But the support provided is far from sufficient.
In many areas, local people and organizations involved in supporting disabled people make up for the shortcomings.
Nanko Airin Kai, a social welfare corporation in Nagasaki Prefecture, has been providing livelihood and child rearing support for disabled couples and partners for about two decades.