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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 10 - 16  > Abe offers apology to victims of gov’t segregation policy regarding leprosy patients
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2019 July 10 - 16 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Abe offers apology to victims of gov’t segregation policy regarding leprosy patients

July 13, 2019
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on July 12 issued a comment on his decision to accept the Kumamoto District Court ruling which was recently delivered in a damage suit filed by families of leprosy patients. Abe in his comment expressed his remorse and offered an apology, but at the same time the government published a statement to make counterarguments over the court ruling’s conclusions concerning the responsibilities of cabinet ministers and Dietmembers.

Abe’s comment admits that under the government’s segregation policy, leprosy patients as well as their family members faced severe prejudice and discrimination. However, it also expresses doubts regarding aspects of the court ruling. The comment argues that despite such flaws, the government decided not to appeal the ruling in order for an early settlement of the lawsuit, stressing that this is “an exceptional decision”.

Following the release of Abe’s comment and the government statement, the plaintiffs and their lawyers held a press conference in the Diet building. Hayashi Chikara, leader of the plaintiffs’ group, welcomed Abe’s comment, but added that it is only a step toward the final settlement of the issue. The head of the plaintiffs’ legal team, Tokuda Yasuyuki stated that the government should negotiate with the plaintiffs' group within this month in order to set up a framework for uniformly compensating all victims for damages. The plaintiffs’ counsel issued a written opinion criticizing the government statement for making a misinterpretation of the court ruling.

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo later on the same day said to the press that it is a matter of course for PM Abe to offer an apology. Shii noted that the government should not have made its counterargument criticizing the court decision. Shii said, “The government needs to apologize for the suffering inflicted and sincerely cope with all the victims who underwent hardships due to the government policy regarding leprosy in a fair and comprehensive manner.”

The Kumamoto District Court last month issued a ruling acknowledging that the government policy of putting leprosy patients into social isolation caused damage to not only the patients but also the patients' families and ordered the payment of compensation. The government on July 9 announced its decision to not appeal the judgement.

Past related article:
> Court rules that gov’t past policy of isolating Hansen’s disease patients cause damage to patients’ families [June 29, 2019]
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