Woman to sue govt over forced sterilization

Jiji Press SENDAI (Jiji Press) — A woman in her 60s will sue the government for damages for forcing her to undergo an operation for sterilization on the grounds of her intellectual disability, according to informed sources.

The woman, living in Miyagi Prefecture plans to file the lawsuit with the Sendai District Court in Miyagi in January next year at the earliest, claiming that the state infringed on her human rights through the sterilization that was permitted by the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law, the sources said Sunday.

It will be the first damages lawsuit against the government over forced sterilization, said Koji Niisato, an attorney representing the woman.

The woman received the operation for sterilization when she was in her teens, according to Niisato.

She has no memory of agreeing to the operation and documents obtained from the Miyagi prefectural government suggest that the operation was done forcibly.

The woman has had a marriage proposal turned down because of her infertility.

In the lawsuit, the woman plans to claim that she was deprived of the freedom to give birth to children and that her right to self-determination, included in the constitutionally guaranteed right to pursue happiness, and her dignity as an individual, also assured under the supreme law, were infringed on. The amount of damages to be sought is yet to be decided.

In Japan, operations for sterilization on patients of genetic illnesses, intellectually handicapped people and leprosy sufferers were allowed by the former Eugenic Protection Law.

According to a statement by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, the number of sterilization operations conducted across the country under the law reached some 25,000.

In 1996, the law was amended into the Maternal Protection Law after the deletion of discriminatory clauses.

The attorneys for the woman are planning to launch a telephone consultation service for people under similar circumstances, with an eye to possibly bringing a group lawsuit.Speech

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