"More than 16,500 women and men were sterilized against their will," reads a newsletter published in 1997 by the Network on Ethics and Intellectual Disability.

Shocking. Less so now, as recent developments having made the fact familiar. Shocking all the same. How can civilization have sunk so low?

The Eugenic Protection Law under which the forced sterilizations occurred was in effect from 1948 to 1996. A law compensating victims was enacted in April, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe committed the government to "utmost efforts to realize a society in which people can coexist, regardless of disease or disability."