Japan’s top court acquits woman of abandoning stillborn twins

TOKYO, Japan | Japan’s Supreme Court issued a rare not guilty verdict on Friday, overturning the conviction of a Vietnamese woman for abandoning stillborn twins that she delivered alone.

Le Thi Thuy Linh received a three-month suspended sentence in January 2022, in a case cited as an example of the pressures faced by women enrolled in Japan’s “technical intern” programme.

She appealed and was acquitted on Friday, a court spokesman told AFP.

Her legal team and supporters hailed the verdict, holding banners in front of the court declaring: “Linh is innocent.”

Japan’s technical intern programme is meant to give participants specialised work experience of use in their home country.

In 2021, the scheme had around 275,000 workers from countries including China and Vietnam.

But women in the programme have said they face pressure not to become pregnant and have been told they risk losing their internships if they do.

Linh was working on a farm in southern Japan’s Kumamoto when she discovered she was pregnant in July 2020.

She feared her family back home would be “destroyed financially” if she was deported over the pregnancy, her lawyer Hiroki Ishiguro told AFP last year.

She tried first to terminate and then to hide the pregnancy, and alleges her employer warned her of “difficulties” if she gave birth.

She finally delivered stillborn twin boys at home, and when she sought help the next day from a doctor, she was reported to authorities. – AFP