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Outrage In Japan: Children Forcefully Sterilized

July 3, 2023 | By Kali Girl

Children as young as nine were among thousands of people forcibly sterilized under a eugenics law in Japan, according to a government report that has sparked outrage among campaigners.

According to the Guardian, the 1,400-page report, recently submitted to parliament, highlights that between 1948 and 1996, approximately 16,500 individuals underwent non-consensual operations under the law. Its purpose was to prevent the birth of what was considered to be low-quality descendants and safeguard the health of the mother.

Most of the victims were women. Moreover, around 8,000 others gave their consent, likely due to coercion, and nearly 60,000 women underwent abortions due to hereditary illnesses.

Two nine-year-olds, a boy and a girl, were reportedly sterilized in Japan. Their case sheds light on the mistreatment of individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions by the Japanese government after World War II.

Legislation passed in 2019 offered compensation of ¥3.2m ($22,800) to each victim, but campaigners argue that this amount fails to acknowledge the victims’ suffering. The application deadline for compensation is set to expire in April 2024, and only 1,049 victims have received payment so far.

Victims have been advocating for financial damages and recognition of the physical and mental pain they endured for decades. While some courts have awarded damages, others have upheld the government’s position based on the statute of limitations, stating that too much time had passed for legal redress due to the victims’ late awareness of the nature of their surgeries.

After the report’s publication, the chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, said the government “sincerely reflects on and deeply apologizes” for the “tremendous pain” victims suffered through forced sterilization.

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