Under the former Eugenic Protection Law, sterilization surgeries were forced on people with intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses and hereditary diseases to “prevent the births of eugenically inferior offspring” for decades in postwar Japan, until the law was amended in 1996 to remove the discriminatory provisions that enabled such surgeries even without the victims’ consent. After some victims of forced sterilization filed a series of lawsuits starting last year against the government seeking state compensation for their suffering, a suprapartisan group of Diet members recently put together draft legislation that calls for a lump-sum payment of ¥3.2 million for each of the victims who were subjected to the sterilization surgery under the defunct law.
It’s far from clear, however, whether the legislation will settle the problem. The victims and their lawyers say the draft legislation falls short of clarifying the state’s responsibility for their plight, while the size of the payment is much less than the levels of compensation they are demanding for the loss of their right to have children. While the lawmakers hope to get the legislation enacted as early as next month — before the first court ruling on the series of suits is handed down, possibly in May — the lawyers for the plaintiffs say they will pursue the legal battle, now contested by 20 people in seven district courts across the country, and charge that the proposed law is insufficient to make up for the damage they sustained under the discriminatory policy.