A court in Japan on Tuesday ordered the government to compensate three people with disabilities who underwent forced sterilization, the first such ruling in the country. 

The high court of Osaka province directed the government to pay $239,660 in damages to three people – a couple and a woman in their 70s and 80s – and recognized the eugenics law as unconstitutional, Kyodo News reported.

Between 1948 and 1996, around 25,000 people with disabilities were sterilized under Japan’s now-defunct eugenics protection law, “including around 16,500 who were operated on without their consent.”

The law, which “authorized the sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses or hereditary disorders,” was abolished in 1996, two years after a disabled Japanese woman raised the issue at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Egypt.

Courts in Japan had previously termed the law unconstitutional but stopped short of directing the government to pay compensation “on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired 20 years after the forced surgeries,” read the report.

There are several cases related to the issue filed across Japan.

The Japanese parliament passed a law in 2019 to pay $27,885 to people who underwent forced sterilization, but it faced criticism over the “uniform amount” determined for every person.

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