Laws and Justice

Japanese Society and Eugenics Legislation Revisited

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The transformation of Japanese society into a democracy post-World War II did not eradicate discriminatory practices against people with disabilities and the endorsement of eugenics. The 1948 eugenics law, operational for almost five decades, allowed for forced sterilizations of thousands of individuals with disabilities under a national policy, shedding light on the dark history of how such discriminatory practices were legally sanctioned in the country. Despite the supposed move towards democracy, this law and the societal acceptance of eugenics reflect a troubling aspect of Japan's post-war era, raising questions about the extent of social progress in addressing discrimination and human rights violations.

The recent ruling by the Supreme Court, which declared the defunct eugenics law unconstitutional, marked a significant moment in Japan's legal history, recognizing the grave injustices faced by victims of forced sterilizations. The unanimous decision by the 15-justice bench highlighted the government's responsibility in compensating individuals affected by these practices, signaling a shift towards acknowledging past wrongs and offering restitution to those who suffered due to state-sanctioned discriminatory policies. Moreover, the court's rejection of a 20-year statute of limitations on damages claims underscored the importance of accountability and justice for the victims, ensuring that there is no time limit on seeking reparation for the harms inflicted under the eugenics law.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09