Three people filed lawsuits on Thursday seeking 79.5 million yen ($721,000) each in compensation from the Japanese government claiming they were forcibly sterilised under the nation’s former eugenics protection law.
A man in Tokyo, another in Hokkaido and a woman in Miyagi Prefecture who are all in their 70s, independently filed the suits at their local district courts.
The plaintiffs claim that being forcibly sterilised under the eugenics law, which was enacted in postwar Japan in 1948 and kept in place until 1996, deprived them of their constitutional right to choose whether or not to have children.
The controversial law, enacted in Japan as a population control measure to deal with the nation’s postwar food shortage, made it possible for the state to sterilise thousands of people without giving their consent, due to mental disabilities and other illnesses.
According to the latest suits, the man in Hokkaido was forcibly sterilized after being diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens.
At the age of around 14, the plaintiff in Tokyo was sterilised at a children’s home with no official diagnosis of disabilities or illnesses related to the law being given.
The woman in Miyagi Prefecture, who has been campaigning unsuccessfully for 20 years for documents related to forced sterilizations to be disclosed, was herself sterilized at aged 16.
All the plaintiffs have said they were sterilised between the 1950s and the 1960s.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, up until the eugenics law was removed in 1996, of a total of 25,000 people who were sterilised for reasons of mental disabilities and other illnesses, 16,500 people were sterilised without giving their prior consent.
In January, a woman in her 60s filed Japan’s first lawsuit against the government claiming she was forcibly sterilised.
More people across the nation are expected to come forward and sue the government as a legal body is being set up this month to deal with nationwide cases.
The Japanese government has maintained that the sterilisations conducted under the eugenics law at the time were legal.
It has launched a nationwide probe into the issue.