Japan’s Disability Shame

Same Difference

When the curtain rises on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, Japan’s most talented disabled athletes will get their chance to shine on the international stage.

But what fans in the stadiums won’t see is Japan’s troubled history of caring for people with disabilities.

From the 1940s to 1996, Japan‘s government sterilised people with a mental illness or disability because it deemed them “inferior”.

The victims of this Eugenic Protection Law kept silent for decades but are now speaking out and demanding an apology and compensation.

However, the attitudes behind this law still linger today. A belief that all disabled people should be euthanised led to a stabbing spree at a disabled care home in 2016. It was Japan’s worst mass killing since world war two.

The parents of the murdered have kept silent, a sign of the shame some in Japan’s society still feel towards people with disabilities.


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