National / Crime & Legal

Fukuoka couple with impaired hearing considers lawsuit over forced sterilization

Kyodo

An elderly couple with impaired hearing in Fukuoka are considering filing a damages suit against the state over sterilization that the husband was forced to undergo as a young man, their supporters said Friday.

The suit, which could be filed by the end of the year, will add to the growing demands for a government apology and compensation over the former eugenics law.

According to a group representing people with impaired hearing in Fukuoka Prefecture who interviewed the couple, the 82-year-old man and his 78-year-old wife believe they are among the victims of the law as they were deprived of the chance to have children.

The law, in force from 1948 until 1996, authorized the sterilization of people with visual, hearing or learning difficulties, mental illness or hereditary disorders to prevent the birth of “inferior” offspring.

The couple started dating while attending a school for the deaf and the woman became pregnant at the age of 23 after graduation.

However, she was obliged to have an abortion due to strong opposition from the husband’s parents. After that, his relatives took the man to a hospital in Fukuoka to undergo the operation without his consent.

The man became aware of the nature of the surgery much later after finding out an acquaintance had also been sterilized against his will.

According to the government, around 25,000 people were sterilized under the law, including about 16,500 without their consent.

Victims in Hokkaido and Tokyo have already decided or are planning to take legal action after a woman in Miyagi Prefecture filed the first compensation claim against the government in January.