TOKYO: A Japanese woman in her 60s on Tuesday sued the government over her forced sterilisation as a teenager under a now-defunct eugenics law, according to a court official and local media reports.
The woman, whose name was not given, was 15 when the government forced her to undergo a sterilisation procedure in 1972 after she was diagnosed with a mental disability, local media reported.
She is reportedly seeking 11 million yen ($100,000) in damages, saying the state failed to offer relief measures while seriously violating her human rights under the law which remained in force until 1996.
Some 16,000 people were forcibly sterilised under the notorious eugenics law, according to the Japanese bar association.
“We’ve had agonising days… we stood up to make this society brighter,” the woman’s sister-in-law said at a televised press conference.
Asked about the lawsuit, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato declined to comment, saying he was not aware of the details of the case.
The government is prepared to have talks individually with those who need support, but “has no plans to offer blanket measures” to all victims of forced sterilisation, a health ministry official in charge of the issue told AFP.
Children as young as nine were forced to undergo the procedure, according to leading Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.
Germany and Sweden had similar eugenics laws and governments there have apologised and paid compensation to the victims.
Under Japan’s eugenics law, some leprosy patients were also forced into abortions because of policies that forbade them from having children.
In 2005 a Japanese court for the first time ordered the state to pay damages to a former leprosy sufferer affected by the law.