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Japanese court rules against man forcibly sterilised in 1957

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ruled against a damages suit filed by a man in his late seventies who was forcibly sterilised as a young teenager in 1957 under Japan’s eugenics protection law.

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for 30 million yen ($280,000 U.S.), owing to it considering the statute of limitations for damages expired 20 years after the 77-year-old was operated on against his will.

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The plaintiff had claimed that the statute of limitations had not expired as he did not have the luxury of knowing about the details of the operation or level of damage until recently.

The Presiding Judge, Masaharu Ito was quoted as saying as he handed down the court’s ruling, however, that the forced sterilisation had infringed upon the (plaintiff’s) freedom to have a child ensured by the Constitution.

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The lawyers of the plaintiff who was forced to have surgery aged around 14 years old when living at an orphanage in Japan’s northeast, said they will appeal the court’s decision.

Many plaintiffs have claimed that being forcibly sterilised under Japan’s now defunct 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.

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The controversial law, similar to Nazi Germany’s sterilisation law, was enacted here as a population control measure to deal with the nation’s postwar food shortage.

This also made it possible for the state to sterilise thousands of people without receiving their consent, due to mental disabilities and other illnesses.



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