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4 more forced sterilization victims to seek damages from state

In this file photo dated May 17, 2018, lawyers and supporters for a Tokyo man suing the government for compensation for forcible eugenic sterilization surgery enter the Tokyo District Court. (Mainichi)

Four victims of forced sterilization under the now-defunct eugenics protection law (1948-1996) in Hokkaido and Kumamoto prefectures are set to file lawsuits on June 28 with respective district courts seeking damages from the national government, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

One of the victims, a 75-year-old woman from Hokkaido, says that she was also forced to receive an abortion operation. "We were deprived of our right to have a child," said the woman, who will sue the government with her 81-year-old husband.

The moves will bring the total number of plaintiffs in similar damages suits to eight. The suits will also be the second joint-filing over the issue, following the first case on May 17. The Kumamoto action will be the first of its kind in western Japan, indicating court filings demanding the state take responsibility for and provide compensation for the eugenic surgery victims' sufferings are spreading nationwide.

According to lawyers representing the four people, the other two would-be plaintiffs are a 73-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman in Kumamoto Prefecture. In May, four other victims in Hokkaido, Miyagi Prefecture, and Tokyo filed damages suits against the state.

The 75-year-old Hokkaido woman has an intellectual disability apparently due to a fever she had as a child. She was married in 1977, and became pregnant in 1981. However, the pregnancy was noticed by a relative and she was forced to undergo abortion and sterilization operations at a hospital in Takigawa, in central Hokkaido. "We suffered extreme pain," say the woman and her husband.

The 73-year-old man in Kumamoto has physical disabilities due to childhood osteoarthritis, causing joint damage. He had his testicles removed without his consent when he was an elementary school pupil. The 71-year-old woman from the same prefecture was forced to receive abortion and sterilization operations when she was in her 20s. It is possible that this woman may file her legal action later than the other three, her lawyer said.

(Japanese original by Motomi Kusakabe, Hokkaido News Department, and Ken Nakazato, Kumamoto Bureau)

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