The struggle for victims of the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law — which for decades compelled people with physical/intellectual disabilities or hereditary diseases to undergo sterilization surgery to prevent the birth of “eugenically inferior” children — has gone on for nearly a quarter century after its discriminatory provision was finally scrapped in 1996. If government policy under the law gravely damaged the victims’ basic human rights — as court rulings acknowledge — they deserve compensation that matches their suffering.

But the passage of time stands in the way of the victims’ pursuit of government redress for depriving them of their reproductive rights under the misguided policy. On Tuesday, the Tokyo District Court rejected a lawsuit by a 77-year-old man on grounds that his right to seek damages for the surgery performed on him without his consent in 1957 had expired due to the Civil Code’s 20-year statute of limitations on damages.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.