Japanese Eugenic Sterilization

Japanese Eugenic Sterilization

Forced sterilization during post-war era in Japan

After World War II, as the world was gradually realizing the horrors of Nazi Germany’s sterilizations and other crimes against humanity, Japan’s own eugenic ideology was taking off. In 1948, Japan’s population policy was tightly controlled by the now defunct Eugenic Protection Law, which authorized the prevention of “inferior” offspring. Under the law, in place until 1996, as many as 25,000 people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and hereditary diseases were subjected to sterilization. Existing records show 8,500 gave consent — although under pressure and threats — while 16,500 people underwent forced sterilizations, including girls as young as 9 years old. Women bore the brunt of the eugenic campaign, making up 70 percent of the victims. What’s more, as many as 60,000 women had forced abortions based on the idea that women with disabilities should not reproduce. The law was phased out by 1992 and eventually abolished in 1996, thanks to heavy public campaigning in the 1970s.

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