Kanagawa Prefecture to find Group Homes for disabled after Sagamihara

Extracts from The Mainichi Shimbun

February 7th 2018

Kanagawa Prefecture will independently fund Group Homes (GH) next year in order to advance a “regional shift” by which severely intellectually disabled people living in care home facilities can start using GH’s.

Launching a regional transition support measure. In the reconstruction of “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden”, a facility for disabled in Sagamihara City where a killing incident occurred, the same policy will be expanded across the prefecture in response to the decision to reduce the size of the facility to promote regional migration.

The related expenses of about 70 million yen were posted in the draft fiscal year 2018 initial budget. GH, which requires a staff allocation higher than the current status to accept disabled persons who enter the prefectural disabled welfare facility, aid of 1.55 million yen per year for each acceptance. In addition to issuing 5,000 yen a day for GH’s that accepts severely handicapped person, financial assistance will given to disabled people who are residents in GH’s to help with rent.

Regional transition was decided upon at intention of the disabled himself, and emphasis was placed on the process of “decision support” to promote the intention of the residents even in the reconstruction plan of the Yamayuri Park.

For this reason, support measures will also assist in the case of deploying multiple “counseling support experts” that have a wide range of projects that disseminate / enlighten decision support and work experience that is essential for decision support.

Although the philosophy of welfare for persons with disabilities “from facility to area” is expanding in recent years, due to GH ‘s talent shortage etc, region shifting is not proceeding as expected. According to the prefecture, among the 5053 residents in the prefecture at the end of FY 2001, there were 193 people shifted to the region by the end of FY 2004, which was a large opening with about 500 people set as targets. In particular, people with severe disabilities tend to remain in the facility.

The prefectural person in charge talks about support measures “If it becomes a camphor agent for regional shift promotion”.

Nara prefecture publishes reports on abuse of persons with disabilities for fiscal year 2016

From The Asahi Shimbun

February 5th 2018

Nara prefecture collected data and reported on the situation of disabled abuse within Nara prefecture for FY 2016. There were 81 reports and consultations on abuse received by the prefecture and municipalities (an increase of 23 cases from the previous year), which was the largest number since the prefecture started collecting data regarding abuse. 21 of them was certified as abuse.

Nara prefecture reported on what the prefecture and municipalities accepted based on the Act on the Prevention of Abuse of Persons with Disabilities. Looking at 21 cases by type (with duplication), 14 cases of physical abuse such as violence, 4 psychological cruelty such as abusive, 3 economic abuse such as using property without permission, abandonment · neglect (Neglect) 2, sexual abuse 1 case.

16 cases of abuses were by carers such as families, and 4 cases of abuse by employers hiring disabled people. One case of abuse in welfare facilities was sexual abuse by the instructor. Nara prefecture guided this facility and accepted the improvement plan.

Regarding the fact that the total number of receipts has increased, the person in charge of the prefectural disability welfare section stated that “With staff of welfare facilities, persons in charge of municipalities, workshops for the general public, and what is abusing, if understanding is spreading You see. “I would like to respond in tandem with municipalities in the future.”

Fukushima finds records of sterilizations performed under eugenic law

Kyodo via The Japan Times

February 6th 2018

The Fukushima prefectural government said Tuesday it has found a list of names of 120 people who underwent sterilization under the eugenic protection law that existed for decades until 1996, bringing the total number of such records identified to 2,845 across 21 prefectures.

Under the now-defunct law, 24,991 had their reproductive capacity removed due to mental or other diseases — including 16,475 without consent — according to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, which cited government reports.

The Fukushima prefectural government had earlier told Kyodo News it held no such records but said Tuesday it had found the documents listing the names, ages and illnesses of 33 men and 87 women, of whom 68 were under 20 years old.

The documents included applications for surgeries and notices about the operations. All of the 120 are believed to have undergone sterilization without consent.

A woman in her 60s in Miyagi Prefecture sued the state last month in relation to procedures performed under the eugenic protection law, seeking ¥11 million ($101,000) in damages over her forced sterilization when she was a teenager on grounds of mental disability.

It was the first such suit over forced sterilizations in Japan. Filing the suit with the Sendai District Court, the plaintiff said the state failed to legislate for relief measures despite the serious human rights infringement.

The women also claimed the 1948 law denied human equality and the right to pursue happiness, and was therefore unconstitutional.

Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi has said the Hokkaido government holds similar data on 841 people who underwent sterilization surgery and that it will disclose the data by mid-February.

The central government has not apologized or provided compensation to the around 25,000 people, saying the procedures were legal at the time. The government says many records of forced sterilizations have been discarded by government offices.

In 2016, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommended that Japan adopt “specific measures aimed at providing all victims of forced sterilizations with assistance to access legal remedies and provide them with compensation and rehabilitative services.”

The eugenics protection law authorized the sterilization of people with mental disabilities and illness or hereditary disorders, to prevent births of “inferior” offspring. It also allowed for forcible abortions.

The legislation, which paralleled a similar law in Nazi Germany, was scrapped in 1996 and replaced by the maternal protection law on abortions. Germany and Sweden had similar eugenics laws and the governments there have apologized and paid compensation to the victims.

Victims of the Eugenics Law

Japan Times Editorial

3rd February 2018

A damages lawsuit filed by a woman forcibly sterilized under the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law should prompt the government to quickly review what happened to the thousands of people who were subjected to such operations, clarify its responsibility for their plight and acknowledge where it erred under the policy. It should then consider remedial steps to those whose rights were infringed through the forced sterilization.

The suit — the first of its kind seeking state redress concerning the 1948 law — was filed Tuesday by a woman in her 60s from Miyagi Prefecture, who charges that the government committed a serious violation of her human rights by making it impossible for her to give birth to and raise children. On the basis of diagnosis by a local hospital in 1972 — when the woman was 15 — that she was suffering from serious hereditary mental retardation, the prefectural eugenic protection review board determined that she had to undergo sterilization.

The surgery was carried out with no explanation given by the doctor to her. Afterward, the woman complained regularly of stomach pains. She has been unable to marry due to the sterilization as well as the loss of a right ovary in an operation for malignant cystoma.

The woman accuses the government of violating the Constitution — which says that all people shall be respected as individuals and guaranteed the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness — by forcing sterilization on her and is calling for ¥11 million in damages.

Forced sterilization under eugenics programs was instituted in some countries in the early part of the 20th century. Against the backdrop of Japan’s rapid population growth right after the war, the Eugenic Protection Law was put into force in 1948 with the aim of preventing births of eugenically inferior offspring. It allowed doctors to carry out sterilization of people who had mental disabilities or illnesses and hereditary diseases even without their and their relatives’ consent if the doctors determined that such sterilization was necessary for the public interest and if the local review panel approved their opinion. A Health and Welfare Ministry notice in 1953 said that sterilization surgery approved by a eugenics protection review board could be carried out even if the subjects of the operation opposed it — allowing for the use of physical restraints, anesthesia and deception to get them to accept the surgery.

According to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, sterilization surgeries under the law were carried out on some 25,000 people — about 16,500 of which without the consent of those who underwent the procedure.

As criticism mounted that it discriminated against people with disabilities, the law was revised into the Maternal Protection Law in 1996 by eliminating the discriminatory clauses, including the provision for forced sterilization.

Calls have grown since around 2000 for the government to take remedial measures toward the people subjected to forced sterilization. The issue of compensation for them was taken up in the Diet, and the bar federation called on the government to look into detailed facts related to the issue and offer damages to the victims. The government, however, has been slow to respond. It has refused either to look into what had taken place under the law or offer an apology, saying that the forced sterilization was legal while the Eugenic Protection Law was in effect.

The government’s position is in stark contrast to the actions taken by Sweden and Germany. After such laws were abolished in those countries, officials examined what transpired, offered apologies and paid compensation to the victims by taking the necessary legal steps.

The government should be reminded of the Kumamoto District Court’s 2001 ruling that the Leprosy Prevention Law, which forcefully separated Hansen’s disease patients from families and communities and confined them for life in sanatoriums, was unconstitutional, and ordered the state to pay compensation to victims under the State Redress Law. The leprosy law had been abolished in 1996 and the government did not appeal the ruling. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and both houses of the Diet issued apologies, and legislation to pay damages to the former patients soon took effect. In this connection, it must be noted that sterilization was performed on Hansen’s disease patients under the Eugenic Protection Law.

The eugenics law caused deep scars on large numbers of people for nearly half a century. Many local authorities have destroyed records of sterilization surgeries performed under the law and many of the victims and their relatives who can testify are aging and dying. The government should move quickly to establish the facts about the situation and take remedial action.

Eugenic ideas that certain types of people don’t deserve to live have not died out. In 2016, the nation was shocked by the murders of 19 residents of a welfare facility for people with disabilities in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture — committed by a former staffer at the facility who reportedly claimed that people with serious disabilities should be eliminated because they only create unhappiness. Helping to prevent such ideas from having an influence on society is all the more reason for taking quick action on the forced sterilization issue.

Gov’t mulls ordinance requiring 2 or more wheelchair spaces per train

The Mainichi

February 5th 2018

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has solidified plans to revise a ministry ordinance to require all trains to be introduced from fiscal 2020 onward to have at least two wheelchair spaces per train, it has been learned.

According to the MLIT, trains are currently

required by the ministry ordinance to have one

or more wheelchair spaces per train based on

the 2006 Act on Promotion of Smooth

Transportation, etc. of Elderly Persons,

Disabled Persons, etc. However, with the

number of foreign visitors expected to rise

leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and

Paralympics, the revised ordinance requiring

two or more spaces is planned to be issued

this fiscal year in hopes to increase

convenience for wheelchair-users.

In addition to requiring at least two wheelchair spaces per train to be introduced from April 2020, including Shinkansen bullet trains, the new order will also request that a wide enough space for wheelchair users to move smoothly be guaranteed along with the installation of railings and signage confirming the intended use for the spaces. However, trains with three cars or less are exceptions to the rule and will still only be required to have one or more wheelchair spaces. The definition of a single space, unrelated to the transport ministry ordinance, will be set at a length of 130 centimeters or more and a width of at least 75 centimeters.

On the other hand, the barrier-free facility guidelines created by the transport ministry and referenced by railway companies calls for train operators to strive for even higher goals. In addition to having one or more wheelchair spaces in all vehicles of regular trains, it is suggested that the Shinkansen first class “green cars” also be made accessible for wheelchair users along with current accommodations for regular reserved seating cars.

Marking 10 years since the law came into effect, from October 2016, the transport ministry aimed to raise the level of barrier free efforts in train station facilities and public spaces to create an environment where the elderly and people with disabilities can safely travel and other measures as its legacy for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

An investigative committee composed of advocacy groups for people with disabilities and other experts has reviewed the ordinance and other relevant rules. With only one wheelchair space per train, the committee argued that getting to use the space can turn into a competition, and if the number of spaces in trains is increased, it can also benefit parents with baby carriages and travelers with luggage.

“We considered the content (of the ordinance) based on the opinions of wheelchair users,” said a representative of the MLIT’s Poli cy Division for Universal Design. “Moving forward, we will collect public opinion and make the proper revisions to the ministry ordinance.”

Girls aged just 9 among hundreds of minors forced to be sterilized

The Asahi

February 1st 2018

SENDAI–Girls as young as 9 diagnosed with intellectual disabilities underwent forced sterilization under a postwar law aimed at “preventing the birth of inferior offspring.”

Records kept by the Miyagi prefectural government for fiscal 1963 through 1981 show that 859 local residents were sterilized under the provisions of the old Eugenic Protection Law. Of that figure, 448 were minors.

For the full period when the law came into effect in 1948 through 1996, when it was renamed the Maternal Health Law, 1,406 residents of Miyagi Prefecture were forced to submit to sterilization.

The list includes the names, ages and reasons for the sterilization. Local authorities kept the records to ensure the central government covered the expenses for the procedures.

Boys as young as 10 were sterilized on two occasions, in fiscal 1965 and 1967, while two girls aged nine were sterilized in fiscal 1963 and 1974.

Yasutaka Ichinokawa, a sociology professor at the University of Tokyo who is knowledgeable about the issue, said, “Despite the fact that the old Eugenic Protection Law did not have provisions setting an age limit, I am very surprised that girls as young as 9 were forced to undergo sterilization.”

Of the 859 individuals, 320 were male and 535 were female. The gender and age of four individuals were not included. Among the males, 191 were minors. Among the females, 257 were minors.

In total, 745 individuals were listed as having genetic intellectual disabilities.

According to a citizens group seeking an apology from the government, 16,500 or so individuals across Japan underwent forced sterilization.

For the bulk of the patients, however, details such as age, gender and reason for the procedure have not been disclosed.

Hokkaido had the most forced sterilizations at 2,593, while Miyagi Prefecture had the second largest number.

A woman in her 60s who was sterilized at 15 filed the first challenge to the constitutionality of the Eugenic Protection Law at the Sendai District Court on Jan. 30. She is seeking 11 million yen ($101,000) in compensation.

A group supporting her efforts has called on the government to establish a fund to provide compensation and fully disclose details of the forced sterilization program.

However, at a Jan. 30 news conference, Katsunobu Kato, the welfare minister, said, “We have heard directly from those who were affected based on their requests and we will continue to listen if such requests are made in the future.”

He stopped short of promising a more extensive study.

Lawyers set up hotlines for victims of 1948-1996 eugenics law

Kyodo reprinted in The Japan Times

SENDAI – Lawyers in five cities set up telephone counseling hotlines Friday for individuals who were forced into sterilization or affected by the Eugenic Protection Law to gauge the effect that the now-defunct act has had nationwide.

Volunteer lawyers based in Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka received 10 calls from those who underwent surgery and their families.

The Eugenic Protection Law, enacted in 1948 and scrapped in 1996, legalized the sterilization of people with intellectually disabilities or mental illness without their consent.

Soon after the hotline opened at the Sendai Bar Association office, lawyers received a call from a man saying he “had the operation in his teens,” and listened carefully to his account while taking notes.

Koji Niisato, a lawyer involved in a lawsuit filed Tuesday seeking damages for victims of the Eugenic Protection Law from the Japanese government, said “having victims come forward would be a huge step toward granting a legal remedy. We ask for those affected to call and talk to us.”

A woman in her 60s who had been forced to undergo sterilization due to an intellectual disability filed the lawsuit at the Sendai District Court, becoming the first in Japan to do so.

According to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, some 25,000 people with disabilities nationwide received sterilization operations under the former law. Of all the sterilizations conducted, about 16,500 surgeries were reportedly conducted without consent.

From Saturday 3rd February 2018, lawyers involved with the legal suit will be available for counseling at 022-397-7960.