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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 November 13 - 19  > Legislation to compensate for sufferings of kin to ex-Hansen’s disease patients enacted
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2019 November 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Legislation to compensate for sufferings of kin to ex-Hansen’s disease patients enacted

November 16, 2019

Two bills to provide relief to former leprosy patients’ relatives who experienced discrimination resulted from the long-held national isolation policy were unanimously approved and enacted at the House of Councilors plenary session on November 15.

One of the two bills is designed to compensate for damages to kin to ex-Hansen’s disease patients and the other is aimed at restoring their honor with the revision of the basic law to deal with problems concerning the disease.

The newly-enacted compensation law in its preamble states that the Diet and the government “feel deep remorse and offer an apology” for hardships imposed on former patients’ families due to discrimination and prejudice.

Under the law, up to 1.8 million yen in compensation will be paid to former patients’ parents and children on demand and up to 1.3 million yen will be paid to siblings and other people in a designated third-degree kinship who are living together. In addition, the law will cover those who resided in prewar Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula and those who lived in Okinawa under the U.S. military occupation.

Following the enactment of the legislation, among families who waged the court battle for damages against the state, one plaintiff welcomed the enactment and said that the government should continue to work to root out the isolation policy-induced strong bias and discrimination against the relatives of former Hansen’s disease patients.

Another plaintiff, Shima Kazuhiro living in Gunma Prefecture, whose uncle used to live in the national leprosy sanatorium Kuryu Rakusen’en in the prefecture, said, “I give my endorsement to the new law only because it provides compensations to the plaintiffs who were dismissed by the court and who died before the end of the court battle.”

Former Hansen’s disease patient Tateyama Isao, who fought the lawsuit against the state’s unconstitutional isolation policy, has been working to support the affected families’ legal battle. Commenting on the new legislation, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the payment limit to 1.8 million yen as it falls short of compensating for the great pain and suffering that patients’ families experienced. He stressed that only when the state creates a society free of discrimination against Hansen’s disease can the disease-related issues be settled.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t decides not to appeal court order to pay damages to families of leprosy patients [July 10, 2019]
> Court rules that gov’t past policy of isolating Hansen’s disease patients cause damage to patients’ families [June 29, 2019]
> Families of ex-Hansen disease patients in court call for society free from discrimination and prejudice [February 19, 2016]
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