Abe Offers Direct Apology to Kin of Leprosy Patients

Politics Society

Tokyo, July 24 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met relatives of former and current leprosy patients on Wednesday, conveying the government's apology for its now-defunct isolation policy, which facilitated discrimination against not just patients but also their relatives.

"On behalf of the government, I offer a heartfelt apology," Abe told the relatives at the prime minister's office.

Abe's face-to-face apology followed a decision by his government not to file an appeal against a ruling by Kumamoto District Court late last month ordering the government to pay a total of about 376 million yen in damages to plaintiffs who are relatives of former leprosy patients.

At the meeting, the prime minister vowed to carry out compensatory measures not only for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit but also others whose relatives were leprosy patients.

Abe admitted that "extremely strong prejudice and discrimination" were also directed toward patients' relatives, who were left in "tremendous pain and hardship for a long time."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press