A recent parliamentary report in Japan has shed light on a dark chapter in the nation’s history, revealing that children as young as nine were among the 25,000 individuals forcibly sterilized under the country’s post-World War II eugenics law. The comprehensive 1,400-page report, made public on Monday, disclosed that approximately 65 percent of these procedures were conducted without the victims’ consent. The law, which was in effect for 48 years from 1948 to 1996, aimed to sterilize individuals with disabilities, mental illness, or hereditary disorders, and was even used to control population growth during times of food shortages.

Details of the Report:

According to the parliamentary report, disturbing revelations have emerged regarding the victims of Japan’s eugenics law. Shockingly, two nine-year-olds were among the 16,000 people who did not consent to the sterilization procedures. The report highlights the lack of information regarding the reasons behind the surgeries performed on these young children, raising further questions about the unjust and inhumane nature of the law.

Government’s Response and Compensation:

The revelations have sparked outrage among the victims and their advocates. The report has been criticized for its failure to explain the motives behind the law, the delayed amendment process that spanned nearly five decades, and the absence of compensation for the victims. It is worth noting that in 2019, the Japanese government had agreed to compensate survivors of the state sterilization program, drawing parallels to Nazi Germany’s eugenics laws. Payments of ¥3.2 million (£17,700) were promised to those who underwent the procedures, and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a public apology expressing deep remorse on behalf of the government.

International Context:

Japan is not the only country with a dark history of forced sterilizations. The Nazis sterilized nearly 400,000 individuals whom they deemed unfit for life, while Canada and several American states, such as North Carolina, also implemented sterilization policies. Shockingly, records revealed that Sweden sterilized 60,000 women between 1935 and 1976, based on physical or mental disabilities and categorizing some as “inferior racial types.” Many of these women were coerced into undergoing the procedures under the threat of losing their children or welfare benefits. In response, the Swedish government eventually passed legislation providing compensation of 175,000 Kr (£12,800) to all victims of the program.