Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

Above, the upper house of the Japanese parliament after Eugenics Protection Law was passed on Wednesday, April 25, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)
Updated 24 April 2019

Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

  • An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996
  • The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time

TOKYO: Japan’s government apologized Wednesday to tens of thousands of victims forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law and promised to pay compensation.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was offering “sincere remorse and heartfelt apology” to the victims.
His apology comes just after the parliament enactment earlier Wednesday of legislation to provide redress measures, including $28,600 (¥3.2 million) compensation for each victim.
An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996. The law was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants” and allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities. It was quietly renamed as the Maternity Protection Law in 1996, when the discriminatory condition was removed.
The redress legislation acknowledges that many people were forced to have operations to remove their reproductive organs or radiation treatment to get sterilized, causing them tremendous pain mentally and physically.
The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time.
The apology and the redress law follow a series of lawsuits by victims who came forward recently after breaking decades of silence. That prompted lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to draft a compensation package to make amends for the victims.
The plaintiffs are seeking about ¥30 million each ($268,000) in growing legal actions that are spreading around the country, saying the government’s implementation of the law violated the victims’ right to self-determination, reproductive health and equality. They say the government redress measures are too small for their suffering.
In addition to the forced sterilizations, more than 8,000 others were sterilized with consent, though likely under pressure, while nearly 60,000 women had abortions because of hereditary illnesses, according to Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
Among them were about 10,000 leprosy patients who had been confined in isolated institutions until 1996, when the leprosy prevention law was also abolished. The government has already offered compensation and an apology to them for its forced isolation policy.


British airports to introduce 3D screening for carry-on bags

UK Border control is seen in Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London June 4, 2014. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 August 2019

British airports to introduce 3D screening for carry-on bags

  • The screeners already are being used in trials at London’s Heathrow Airport and they will progressively be rolled out to other British airports by Dec. 1, 2022, the government said

LONDON: Putting small containers of liquids in plastic bags could soon be a thing of the past for airline passengers in Britain after the government announced plans Sunday to introduce 3D screening equipment for carry-on luggage at all major airports.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement that the new technology will improve security and could also mean “an end to passengers having to use plastic bags or rationing what they take away with them.”
Under current security restrictions, passengers are not allowed containers carrying more than 100 milliliters (3.38 fluid ounces) of liquids in their carry-on luggage and the containers have to be in a clear plastic bag.
That could come to an end under the new screening regime and passengers may also be able to keep electrical equipment such as their laptops in their cabin bags.
The screeners already are being used in trials at London’s Heathrow Airport and they will progressively be rolled out to other British airports by Dec. 1, 2022, the government said.
Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye says the technology “will transform the passenger experience, making air travel simple, streamlined and more secure through the UK’s only hub airport.”