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Gov't to argue man forcibly sterilized under old law has lost right to seek damages

TOKYO -- The government will fight a damages lawsuit filed by a man forcibly sterilized decades ago under the now-defunct eugenic protection law (1948-1996) on the grounds that his legal right to seek compensation has expired, a figure familiar with the case has disclosed.

The Civil Code stipulates that a person's right to demand compensation expires 20 years from the time of an unlawful act. It will be the first time among a series of suits filed in connection with the eugenic law for the government to cite the provision. The argument is said to have been included in a document that was submitted to the Tokyo District Court for the next hearing of the trial.

The plaintiff, a 75-year-resident of Tokyo, is demanding 30 million yen in compensation for being forcibly sterilized about 60 years ago, arguing that the procedure was unlawful.

While the government will cite the Civil Code stipulation to argue that the man has no right to claim compensation, it will make no reference to whether or not the sterilization was illegal, the person familiar with the case said.

The government had earlier indicated during the first oral argument in August that it would fight the case, but had held off providing details.

A similar lawsuit over forced sterilization has been filed with the Sendai District Court. In that case, the plaintiff insists that the government and Diet are guilty of failing to act to establish a relief system for those forced to undergo the surgeries after the eugenic protection law was amended in 1996. In response, the government has argued that it is not obliged to create a new law as there is already a system to recover damages under the State Redress Act.

(Japanese original by Akira Hattori, City News Department)

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