Abe offers 'heartfelt apology' to kin of leprosy patients who suffered due to Japan's segregation policy
Japan Times -- Jul 13
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday offered an apology to family members of leprosy patients for their suffering, after the government decided not to appeal a court ruling ordering the state to pay compensation.

Making the first official apology to relatives of leprosy patients who suffered under the government’s segregation policy between 1907 and 1996, Abe acknowledged the “hard fact” that they endured “extremely severe prejudice and discrimination in society.”

“The government deeply reflects on the pain and suffering endured by leprosy patients and their family members and offers a heartfelt apology,” Abe said in a statement endorsed Friday by the Cabinet.

“I myself would like to express this feeling by meeting with family members,” the prime minister said. No date has been set for any possible meeting, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

The apology is a milestone for the family members of former leprosy patients and comes nearly two decades after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi apologized to such patients in 2001 over the segregation policy.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is now curable but many patients were isolated in sanatoriums under the decadeslong government policy. Family members suffered from the stigma of being relatives of leprosy patients.

Friday was the deadline for the government to decide whether to appeal the June 28 ruling, which ordered the state to pay a total of about ¥370 million in damages to 541 plaintiffs.

News source: Japan Times
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