The suggestion by a newly appointed Ibaraki education board member has elicited online outrage. According to the member, the administration should encourage more prenatal screening so that the “burden” of disabled children can be alleviated from the parents.

Chieko Hasegawa, the vice president of Tokyo based gallery Nichido, made the suggestion on Wednesday while speaking at an educational policy meeting. According to the 71 year old, the prefecture should have a system which will give pregnant women the ability to know beforehand whether their unborn toddlers have any disabilities.

The Japan Times quoted Hasegawa saying that, “We need to drastically change our way of thinking. It’s best if technology can help us know whether our kids are disabled beforehand, since when they are born, it’s a huge burden.”

She went further to express what many thought to be her hopes that Ibaraki might adopt policy measures aimed at reducing the number of such children.

The remarks made by Hasegawa came about as she narrated the experience she recently went through while inspecting special schools that took care of the needs of children with disabilities. She observed that there is an increase in enrollment of such children yet, there is a biting shortage of the necessary facilities to accommodate them. She made these remarks to The Japan Times on Thursday.

During the meeting on Wednesday, Hasegawa observed that the large number of teachers needed to work in such schools will lead to “massive budgets”. However, on Thursday, she lamented that her remarks had been misunderstood. According to her, screening tests during early stages of pregnancy will enable mothers to have more choices so that they don’t feel “burdened” should they decide to have the child, not that they are meant to reduce the number of disabled children.

Her comment has however sparked a lot of online anger, with a lot of people saying that such comments were public endorsements of eugenics. Author and a sports journalist Hirotada Ototake, who was born without arms and legs, tweeted on Thursday saying that: “Hey Ms. Hasegawa, So do you mean I shouldn’t have been born?”

Source: The Japan Times

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