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Mainichi wins prestigious award for reporting on eugenics law sterilizations

This photo shows a file of records about "eugenics operations" found in a cabinet at a department in charge of childrearing support in the Miyagi Prefectural Government in northern Japan. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Mainichi Shimbun won this fiscal year's Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association Award for its campaign reporting on the forced sterilization operations conducted on disabled people and others under the now-defunct eugenics protection law, the association announced on Sept. 5.

In its statement explaining the reason for giving the award, the association said that the reporting "played a leading role among media coverage on the subject and brought about moves to support the victims of such surgeries."

The prestigious award is the 30th won by the Mainichi Shimbun, the highest number among Japanese media organizations.

The coverage was led by a team of reporters including Hiroshi Endo of the Sendai Bureau, and started with a report on Dec. 3, 2017, in the Mainichi morning edition that a woman in her 60s in Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan will file the first lawsuit against the government for damages caused by such an operation she was forced to undergo when she was 15.

Subsequent reports on the subject shed light on the circumstances and sufferings of victims of such surgeries who could not come forward to express their hardships fearing discrimination and prejudice. The Mainichi also ran interviews with doctors and officials involved in such procedures, and dug up the background to the law's formation and related records left at prefectural governments and public archives across the nation.

The campaign reporting, which Mainichi reporters nationwide participated in including those at the Local News Department, has led to efforts by various Diet members to create a mechanism of redress, a nationwide survey about the victims by the central government and additional damages lawsuits filed by victims at many district courts.

(The Mainichi Shimbun)

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