Japan court orders forced sterilization damages for fourth time

A court in Japan has ordered the government to compensate a woman who was forced to undergo sterilization under the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law.

The Shizuoka District Court on Friday ordered the payment of 16.5 million yen, or about 122,000 dollars, to a woman in her 80s who has a hearing impairment.

The plaintiff had demanded 33 million yen, or about 244,000 dollars, saying that she was forced to be sterilized in 1970 under the law.

The court's Presiding Judge Masuda Yoshinori said the law violates the freedom of deciding whether to have a child and is unconstitutional. The judge pointed to the enormous mental and physical pain the woman was subjected to.

The government had argued that the plaintiff no longer has the right to seek damages because she filed the suit more than 20 years after the sterilization.

But the court dismissed this, saying the government took nationwide, organized measures to block the plaintiff from knowing that she was forcibly sterilized based on a law.

Similar lawsuits have been filed across Japan. The Shizuoka District court became the fourth to order the government to compensate plaintiffs, following the high courts in Osaka and Tokyo, and the Kumamoto District Court.