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
Jul 18
Ornately decorated floats paraded through Japan's ancient capital Kyoto on Wednesday at the climax of the annual Gion Festival. (NHK)
Jul 18
Johnny & Associates Inc., one of the most powerful talent agencies in Japan, is suspected of having pressured commercial broadcasting television stations to stop inviting three former members of popular boy band SMAP on their shows after they left the office in 2017, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday. (Kyodo)
Jul 18
A Japanese policeman stabbed another officer by mistake during training when he used a real knife instead of a replica. (NHK)
Jul 18
Tokyo DisneySea will launch a new flight simulator attraction Tuesday that promises to make visitors feel as if they are soaring over famous landmarks such as the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian pyramids. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
School-related matters led to more suicides last year among youth aged between 10 and 19 than any other issue, the government said Tuesday in its annual paper on the topic. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Over two weeks of cloudy and rainy days in Tokyo and nearby areas has resulted in higher vegetable prices and sluggish sales of summer clothing. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Former Emperor Akihito briefly suffered from cerebral anemia last week, forcing him to postpone his regular health checkup, the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Jul 17
Toyota Motor Corp. and Japan's space exploration agency said Tuesday they have signed a three-year agreement to jointly research and develop a rover to be sent to the Moon in 2029. (Kyodo)
Jul 16
The Tokyo metropolitan region experienced another cloudy and rainy day on Monday, marking the 18th straight day in which the country’s capital has seen less than three hours of sunshine per day. (Japan Today)
Jul 16
The sounds of chanting men carrying huge, decorated floats signaled the climax of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival. Each float weighs more than one ton. (NHK)