Statement on Kumamoto District Court’s ruling in lawsuit seeking state compensation for former Eugenic Protection Law

January 23, 2023
Tsuyoshi Masuda
Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions

The Kumamoto District Court on January 23 ruled that the former Eugenic Protection Law was unconstitutional and ordered the national government to pay 22 million yen in damages for forced sterilization. Following decisions made by the Osaka High Court in February and the Tokyo High Court in March, this is the third case as well as the first district court decision which supported the plaintiffs’ claim.

The ruling clearly recognized that the former law’s provisions are contrary to Articles 13 and 14 of the Constitution, stating, “neither their purposes nor means can be justified.”

Previous district courts dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims on the basis of the “statute of limitation” provision. The latest ruling restricted its application on the grounds that it significantly violates the principles of justice and fairness, citing as reasons for the decision the enormity of the damage, the government’s grave responsibility, difficulties in exercising rights, and the Constitution as the supreme law.

The court clearly stated that the national government, which enacted and administered the former Eugenic Protection Law, was responsible for making it difficult for the plaintiffs to complain within the exclusion period by losing and erasing evidentiary materials. It declared it unacceptable to prioritize legal stability with mechanical application of the statute of limitation over the grave human rights violation of forced sterilization under the former law. We believe this will lead to future rulings of ongoing cases at district and high courts as well as pave the way for relief for victims.

We strongly urge the government not to appeal to a higher court so that the court decision will be finalized. As five plaintiffs have died since the lawsuits were filed, relief must be given to victims without a moment’s delay. We demand that the government take the decisions by the district court as well as the two high courts in Osaka and Tokyo very seriously and take immediate measures to provide relief for victims and restore their dignity, including drastic revision of the lump-sum payment law.

The Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions will continue to support the lawsuits in various parts of the country and work with victims to realize state compensation for them and restore their dignity.