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Tokyo man sterilized as teen 4th to seek compensation over forced eugenic surgery

A Tokyo man in his 70s who said he underwent forced sterilization under the Eugenic Protection Law (1948-1996) in his teens is set to file a lawsuit against the central government in the Tokyo District Court, sources close to him have disclosed.

The man is the fourth person to decide to sue, following a Miyagi Prefecture woman in her 60s who filed at the Sendai District Court at the end of January, another Miyagi woman in her 70s who plans to file in the same court, and a man in his 70s in Hokkaido who has indicated his intent to file in the Sapporo District Court. A legal team in Tokyo will be set up for the prospective fourth plaintiff.

According to lawyer Koji Niisato of the Sendai Bar Association, with whom the man consulted, the claimant was in his second year of junior high school in Miyagi Prefecture around 1957 when he was forced to undergo sterilization surgery. The man does not have any record or other documentation of the surgery, but his family has provided verbal testimony about the details of his surgery such as when he underwent the procedure.

The man requested that the Miyagi Prefectural Government release their remaining sterilization surgery records on Feb. 23, and is considering having his scars from the operation evaluated medically. However, he plans to file suit regardless of whether the prefectural government produces the records.

Meanwhile, the Miyagi Prefectural Government has decided to take the stance that even if the records no longer exist, if there is testimony and other related documents to back up circumstantial evidential claims, then the prefecture will recognize the case as forced sterilization. Based on annual reports released by the former Ministry of Health and Welfare and other documents, of the 1,406 people who are thought to have undergone the surgeries in the prefecture during the eugenics law era, records only remain for at least 859 cases.

"The prefectural government's response to the man's case will be a focal point for those without forced surgery records who are seeking redress," Niisato said.

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