First compensation claim for compulsory sterilisation in Japan

BioEdge

Michael Cook

A Japanese woman in her 60s is planning to sue the government over her forced sterilization under a 1948 law. This will be the first time that state compensation has been sought for sterilisation. The mentally disabled woman in Miyagi Prefecture was a teenager when she was forced to undergo the procedure.

Records of 2,700 people who were sterilized under the Eugenic Protection Law — which was in force until 1996 — have been found in local government archives, a development which could help victims seek state compensation.

Like some Western countries, Japan has a dark eugenic past.

A 1948 Eugenic Protection Law (EPL) was intended to prevent the births of “inferior descendants” and to foster the health of mothers and pregnant women. It provided for both voluntary and involuntary sterilisation. Doctors could apply for permission for sterilisation to a regional board if a patient suffered from a range of conditions which were believe to be hereditary, including schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychosis, epilepsy, abnormal sexual desire, “remarkable criminal inclination,” Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, albinism, achromatopsia, deafness, haemophilia, and so on.

The Ministry of Health issued guidelines in 1953 clarifying what doctors could do: “It is permissible to restrain the patient’s body, to administer an anesthetic, or to deceive the patient, etc.”

According to government statistics, between 1949 to 1994, 16,520 involuntary sterilizations were performed, 11,356 on women, and 5,164 on men. Most were performed on inmates of psychiatric hospitals and institutions for intellectually disabled people.

Compulsory sterilisation lapsed in 1996 with the passage of the Mother’s Body Protection Law. However, the Japanese government has refused to apologize to the victims of the law or offer them compensation.


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U.S. Responses to Japanese Wartime Inhuman Experimentation after World War II: National Security and Wartime Exigency

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics / Volume 23 / Issue 02 / April 2014, pp 220-230

Brody H, Leonard SE, Nie J-B, Weindling P.

Abstract:

In 1945–46, representatives of the U.S. government made similar discoveries in both Germany and Japan, unearthing evidence of unethical experiments on human beings that could be viewed as war crimes. The outcomes in the two defeated nations, however, were strikingly different. In Germany, the United States, influenced by the Canadian physician John Thompson, played a key role in bringing Nazi physicians to trial and publicizing their misdeeds. In Japan, the United States played an equally key role in concealing information about the biological warfare experiments and in securing immunity from prosecution for the perpetrators. The greater force of appeals to national security and wartime exigency help to explain these different outcomes.
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Complicity after the fact

Moral blindness becomes a virtue and necessity

US scientists were “accomplices after the fact” in Japanese doctors’ war crimes

Bioedge

Michael Cook*

All of contemporary bioethics springs from the Nuremberg Doctors Trial in 1947. Seven Nazi doctors and officials were hanged and nine received severe prison sentences for performing experiments on an estimated 25,000 prisoners in concentration camps without their consent. Only about 1,200 died but many were maimed and psychologically scarred.

So what did the US do to the hundreds of Japanese medical personnel who experimented on Chinese civilians and prisoners of war of many nationalities, including Chinese, Koreans, Russians, Australians, and Americans? They killed an estimated 3,000 people in the infamous Unit 731 in Harbin, in northeastern China before and during World War II – plus tens of thousands of civilians when they field-tested germ warfare. Many of the doctors were academics from Japan’s leading medical schools.
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Professional QOL of Japanese nurses/midwives providing abortion/childbirth care

M. Mizuno, E. Kinefuchi, R. Kimura

Nurs Ethics January 17, 2013 0969733012463723

This study explored the relationship between professional quality of life and emotion work and the major stress factors related to abortion care in Japanese obstetric and gynecological nurses and midwives. . . . Multiple regression analysis revealed that of all the evaluated variables, the Japanese version of the Frankfurt Emotional Work Scale score for negative emotions display was the most significant positive predictor of compassion fatigue and burnout. The stress factors “thinking that the aborted fetus deserved to live” and “difficulty in controlling emotions during abortion care” were associated with compassion fatigue. These findings indicate that providing abortion services is a highly distressing experience for nurses and midwives. [Full Text]

 

Vivisectionist recalls his day of reckoning

Doctor put conscience on hold until war atrocity confession time came

The Japan Times

Jun Hongo

Donning the crisp, Imperial Japanese Army khakis gave Ken Yuasa a sense of power, as a superior being on a mission to liberate China from Western colonialism.

“The uniform made me feel incredibly sharp. Once I put it on, I was convinced Japan would triumph,” recalled the wartime surgeon, who was deployed to Changzhi (then Luan) in Shanxi Province in February 1942.

His fervor, and the nationalist indoctrination of his schooling, quickly subordinated any sense of conscience. By his second month at Luan’s army hospital, Yuasa was aggressively performing vivisections on live Chinese prisoners, and diverting dysentery and typhoid bacillus to Japanese troops for use in biological warfare.

“I was in denial of the things I did in Luan until the war was over. It was because I had no sense of remorse while I was doing it,” Yuasa, 90, told The Japan Times in a recent interview.

“We believed that the orders from the top were absolute. We performed the vivisections as ordered. We erased any sense of culpability by doing so, even though what we did was horrendous.” [Full text]

 

Wealthy western nations attacking protection of conscience at the UN

Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union are reported to be trying to make it illegal for health care workers to decline to perform abortions for reasons of conscience. The negotiations at the Beijing +5 conference are said to have broken down when Nicaragua proposed strong language to protect conscientious objectors. If accurate, these reports indicate that the US, Australia and New Zealand are attempting to impose on third world countries policies that are not acceptable in their own, since all three countries have enacted protection of conscience legislation for their own health care workers.