A damages lawsuit filed by a woman forcibly sterilized under the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law should prompt the government to quickly review what happened to the thousands of people who were subjected to such operations, clarify its responsibility for their plight and acknowledge where it erred under the policy. It should then consider remedial steps to those whose rights were infringed through the forced sterilization.

The suit — the first of its kind seeking state redress concerning the 1948 law — was filed Tuesday by a woman in her 60s from Miyagi Prefecture, who charges that the government committed a serious violation of her human rights by making it impossible for her to give birth to and raise children. On the basis of diagnosis by a local hospital in 1972 — when the woman was 15 — that she was suffering from serious hereditary mental retardation, the prefectural eugenic protection review board determined that she had to undergo sterilization. The surgery was carried out with no explanation given by the doctor to her. Afterward, the woman complained regularly of stomach pains. She has been unable to marry due to the sterilization as well as the loss of a right ovary in an operation for malignant cystoma.

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