On 24 April 2019, the Diet (parliament of Japan) unanimously passed a law which offers an official apology and compensation to more than 25,000 victims of sterilizations under the Eugenics Protection Law (1948-1996). Prime Minister Abe Shinzo also issued a state apology. This has hit the national headlines.
Vice Chancellor of Ritsumeikan University, as well as former vice director and current member of Institute of Ars Vivendi, Prof. Matsubara Yoko, expert on science history, appreciated this enactment and Prime Minister’s Statement as “groundbreaking”, recognizing the state responsibility, but pointed out the need for the comprehensive research into the background and implementation of the sterilization law and emphasized that “This is just a starting point, certainly not the end (Asahi Newspaper, 25 April 2019).
On 31 March 2019, we organized an event on eugenics sterilizations at our campus, in collaboration with Kyoto Bar Association, who are helping the victims. The keynote speaker was Dr. Toshimitsu Keiko, our visiting researcher, who has long been advocating on this issue. We invited survivors of sterilizations, suing the state for the damage. Other speakers included Prof. Tatewaiwa Shinya and Prof. Nagase Osamu, both from our Institute.
Even after the abolition of Eugenics Protection Law in 1996, there have been cases of sterilizations against the will of persons with disabilities. As Japan will be reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2020, this will certainly be considered particularly under article 17 on “protecting the integrity of person”. Institute of Ars Vivendi continues to look into this serious human rights issue, whose whole picture is yet to be established.