• Kyodo

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A woman in her 60s with an intellectual disability will ask the national bar association to examine her forced sterilization about 50 years ago as a human rights violation, her lawyer said Saturday.

The now-defunct 1948 eugenic protection act authorized the forced sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness or hereditary disorders to prevent births of “inferior” children. The law was scrapped in 1996 and replaced by the Maternal Protection Act, from which the controversial clauses were removed.

The woman in Miyagi Prefecture hopes the Japan Federation of Bar Associations will recommend that the state pay compensation or take other appropriate action, according to lawyer Koji Niisato.

“Not a few women were sterilized because of disabilities. I hope this move will help shed light on the reality of the practice,” the lawyer said.

While in her late teens around 1963, the woman says she was forced to undergo a tubal ligation without knowing why when she was taken to a hospital, according to the lawyer and other people supporting her. They say the action violated her human right to the pursuit of happiness.

University of Tokyo professor Yasutaka Ichinokawa, an expert on the eugenics law, says about 16,000 women are believed to have sterilized under the law from 1949 to 1996 based on doctors’ recommendations to prefectural authorities, and that the women’s consent was not necessary.