S. Koreans seek A-bomb redress

Kyodo

Lawsuits were filed Friday by 388 South Korean atomic bomb survivors at district courts in Hiroshima, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures, demanding compensation from the central government for psychological suffering caused by its refusal to disburse health-care benefits to hibakusha living overseas.

Some 128 survivors at Hiroshima demanded the state pay them ¥1.2 million each.

Later in the day, 260 South Korean A-bomb survivors and relatives lodged a similar suit at district courts in Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures.

In a landmark ruling in November 2007, the Supreme Court declared illegal administrative guidance issued in 1974 by the then Ministry of Health and Welfare to local governments that limited benefits to atomic-bomb survivors living in Japan.

The ruling prompted the government to decide to pay ¥1 million in compensation to each overseas survivor recognized as an atomic-bomb victim in lawsuits against the state.

The plaintiffs said they suffered psychological pain over a long period of time because the 1974 “guidance” forced them to give up on getting government support.

A similar lawsuit involving 163 survivors or the next of kin of hibakusha living in the United States and Brazil is pending at the Hiroshima court.