• Kyodo

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Tokyo has refused to compensate 25 former Hansen’s disease patients in Taiwan for their segregation when the island was under Japanese colonial rule, according to Japanese lawyers representing the patients.

Lawyer Naoko Kunimune said Tuesday they hope to file a lawsuit in Japan later this year demanding the rejections be repealed.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry rejected compensation applications filed by the former patients in August under a law implemented in 2001 to compensate former Hansen’s disease patients who had been forced into sanitariums.

The ministry said it rejected the group’s request because under the law only those who were forced into sanitariums in Japan can receive compensation.

The 25 people live in a Taipei sanitarium established in 1930 by the office of Japan’s governor general in Taiwan, which operated during Japanese colonial rule of the island from 1895 to 1945, the lawyers said.

The ministry has also rejected applications from two people in South Korea, the lawyers said.

In August, a group of 111 other former Hansen’s disease patients in South Korea filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court demanding the government repeal a decision not to compensate them for their forced isolation during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The South Koreans had been forcibly institutionalized at Sorokto Hospital on an island in South Cholla Province during that period.

Japan pursued a policy of segregating Hansen’s disease patients under the Leprosy Prevention Law, which was officially repealed in 1996.

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