JCP has played pioneering role in movement for leprosy patients' human rights

The Japanese Communist Party has long called for the protection of basic human rights of leprosy patients and former patients.

The JCP first brought up the issue of the segregation of leprosy patients in the Diet in August 1968. At the time, Taniguchi Zentaro, JCP Lower House member denounced the unbearably harsh situation leprosy patients were forced to accept both economically and psychologically. He also described how difficult it was for former leprosy patients to return to normal life even after the disease was cured.

In 1998, JCP Lower House member Seko Yukiko called into question the government responsibility for the 90 years of incarceration policy and human right violations.

At the grassroots level, JCP branches in leprosy sanatoriums have led the movement.

The JCP Nagashima Aiseien branch in the isolation island off Okayama Prefecture started its party activity in 1946, one year after the end of WWII. Amidst the food shortage they demanded "more rice to the patients."

In addition to the movement calling for the abolition of the Leprosy Prevention Law, which was established to legitimize the segregation, they also led a 17-year struggle demanding the construction of a bridge to the island.

A 73 year-old former patient recounts the activity of the JCP Kuryu Sanatorium branch that began around 1948 in the national leprosy sanatorium in Gunma Prefecture after the outbreak of the patients' struggle for human rights in the same year.

He contracted the disease at age 20 and was confined to the facility. A few years later, he joined the JCP. "I thought that the JCP was doing the right thing by standing up for the patients against the government law and old conventions, and that it was the only party that the weak like me could look to." (end)