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Issues remain despite passage of relief bill for eugenics victims

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A bill to compensate people who were sterilized under a widespread and decades-long eugenics program was enacted on April 24 and immediately put into effect.

Under the program, which was based on the Eugenic Protection Law, some 25,000 people with physical, intellectual or mental disabilities or genetic diseases were forcibly sterilized, robbed of the possibility of bearing, begetting and rearing children. The program was designed to achieve the national goal of halting the procreation of people deemed inferior.

More than 20 years since the eugenics law was abolished in 1996, a program to provide relief to surviving victims is finally in place. But the legislative initiative, which was triggered by a lawsuit filed last year by one victim, has come far too late.


The folly, which started immediately after the end of World War II, continued for nearly 50 years. The Diet, which enacted the eugenics law, the government, which promoted the policy, and society as a whole, are being held responsible for failing to tackle the problem for so long.The enactment of the relief measure should lead the nation to make a renewed determination to protect the dignity of individuals and embrace social diversity.

The compensation program will provide lump-sum payments of 3.2 million yen ($28,500) to each of the victims in response to their applications for relief filed with a screening panel of experts. But only about 3,000, or slightly more than 10 percent of the people who underwent state-ordered sterilizations, have been identified.

It is vital to send notices to individual victims who can be contacted while taking effective steps to identify more victims and make the procedures for applications widely known.

The government has decided against sending notices to individuals citing concerns about possible privacy violations. But there are quite a few surviving victims who are not even aware that they had the operation because of their disabilities and whose parents........

© The Asahi Shimbun