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Ruling and opposition parties agreed Wednesday to adopt a resolution today admitting the Diet’s responsibility in failing to scrap legislation that allowed the segregation of Hansen’s disease patients, members of the Lower House’s Steering Committee said.

A clear stipulation of lawmakers’ responsibility is included in a draft resolution at the request of the opposition Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, the members said.

The 480-seat Lower House will pledge in the resolution to “give legislative support to restore the honor and help rehabilitate patients and former patients of Hansen’s disease,” according to the draft.

The draft says lawmakers will also “express an apology for pain and suffering caused by the discrimination and the restriction of human rights of many of the patients and former patients involved.”

The decision to adopt the resolution came after a ruling by the Kumamoto District Court on May 11 that the Diet and government were responsible for the suffering of former Hansen’s disease patients. In the Diet’s case, it allowed discrimination to continue by failing to repeal the 1953 Leprosy Prevention Law until 1996.

Lower House members are expected to “take the ruling solemnly,” according to the draft.

On May 23, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi decided not to appeal the lower court decision, which was the first ruling on a suit brought by former Hansen’s disease patients seeking damages for the isolation policy.

Meanwhile, lawyers supporting the former Hansen’s disease patients criticized the lawmakers’ draft Wednesday, saying it does not clearly state that public discrimination and prejudice against those with the disease were aggravated by the state’s isolation policy.

Gist of the Lower House resolution

The following is the gist of the draft of a resolution stipulating lawmakers’ responsibility for suffering incurred by patients and former patients of Hansen’s disease:

* The Lower House expresses an apology for the pain and suffering caused by discrimination and by restricting the human rights of many of the patients and former patients of Hansen’s disease due to the longtime policy of their segregation.

* We also offer condolences to patients who passed away amid much agony and chagrin.

* To quickly and thoroughly settle the issue relating to the disease, we solemnly accept the ruling (given by the Kumamoto District Court on May 11) and, seeking not to repeat such misery, will give legislative support to restore the honor of and help rehabilitate patients and former patients, admitting responsibility for allowing the segregation policy.

* We believe the government should also take any possible measures to quickly and thoroughly settle problems relating to pain and suffering that the patients and former patients have endured.

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