The ruling and opposition parties on Thursday agreed to jointly submit to the Diet on Monday a bill to offer compensation to current and former Hansen’s disease patients who suffered under the government’s segregation policy.
The bill, proposed by the ruling coalition and revised slightly in response to opposition demands, will bypass deliberations at the committees on health, labor and welfare of both houses and will likely clear the Diet by the end of next week, party officials said.
Depending on factors such as the length of institutionalization, an estimated 5,500 people will be entitled to compensation ranging from 8 million yen to 14 million yen, with the total sum expected to reach around 70 billion yen.
The chairmen of these committees are scheduled to meet current and former patients to hear their opinions on the compensation bill.
On Thursday, in a meeting of ruling and opposition party officials for Diet affairs, an agreement was reached to accommodate two requests from the opposition parties.
One was to change a phrase in the preamble to the bill from “the policy on institutionalization” to “the segregation policy,” and the other to extend the period during which a compensation request may be filed from two to five years.
The bill follows the May 11 ruling by the Kumamoto District Court that the state was responsible for allowing segregation to continue by failing to repeal the 1953 Leprosy Prevention Law until 1996. This was despite prevalent medical opinion since the 1960s that patients could be treated without forced isolation.
The government will not appeal the ruling.
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