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Gov't to reject settlement with ex-leprosy patients.

TOKYO, Dec. 13 Kyodo

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to reject a court proposal that the state reach a settlement with former leprosy patients who claim in a suit they suffered discrimination due to the past state policy of isolating leprosy patients, ministry sources said Wednesday.

The ministry is considering dismissing the proposal by the Kumamoto District Court last Friday that the state pay between 5 million yen and 7 million yen to each of the 88 plaintiffs and families of deceased patients depending on the damages they had suffered from leprosy.

Unlike most other leprosy patients in Japan, the plaintiffs were not forced into sanitariums under the 1953 Leprosy Prevention Law, which was repealed in 1996. The plaintiffs say they have suffered social discrimination under the state policy which they say ruined their lives.

According to the sources, the welfare ministry was apparently not happy about the proposal as the court failed to say to what degree the state was responsible for discrimination or prejudice against former patients who did not enter sanitariums.

The court did not spell out the reasons why the plaintiffs would receive different amount of compensation, the sources quoted ministry officials as saying.

It would also be difficult to oblige the state to pay compensation to families of plaintiffs who have died, they said.

The welfare ministry plans to wait until the Kumamoto court hands down a ruling in March next year.

A senior ministry official, however, said the ministry ''could join talks to reach a settlement if it (the court) presents good evidence.''

The sources said the welfare ministry will draw up a report stating its position by Dec. 21 before handing it to the court.

The court presented the settlement plan last Friday to both sides during final arguments and said it will hand down a ruling March 29 should they fail to agree on it.

The court also suggested in the plan that the state compensate the families of patients who died from leprosy.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Dec 17, 2001
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