Leprosy activist Kodama dies at 82

Kyodo

Yuji Kodama, a prominent fighter of discrimination against former leprosy patients, died Sunday of lung cancer at a sanitarium in Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture. He was 82.

Kodama represented many former leprosy patients across the country who filed lawsuits, mainly in the late 1990s, claiming that confining them in special centers for decades under a state policy of segregating those with leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, from the general population violated their human rights.

The government and the plaintiffs settled the cases in 2001 by signing an accord that required the government to compensate former leprosy patients for being forcefully segregated.