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Court revokes decision not to cover Korean A-bomb victim’s medical costs

Kyodo

The Osaka District Court on Thursday revoked the 2011 Osaka Prefectural Government’s decision not to cover the medical costs of a South Korean who survived the Hiroshima atomic bombing and received treatment in South Korea, and two other Koreans.

Under the 1994 atomic bomb survivors’ relief law, the government covers all the medical expenses for people who suffered due to the atomic bombing and received treatment in Japan. Thursday’s ruling could pave the way for atomic bomb survivors living outside Japan to receive full coverage as provided to residents in the country.

The plaintiffs include the 67-year-old survivor and two relatives of two now-deceased people whose health was damaged by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Details pertaining to their identity, gender or place of residence after the bombing were not provided.

A three-judge panel led by Judge Kenji Tanaka turned down another demand by the plaintiffs for payment of damages from the Japanese central and Osaka Prefectural governments. The survivor was in his mother’s womb when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

Thursday’s court decision was the first involving an atomic bomb sufferer living abroad, the plaintiffs’ legal representatives said. Similar suits are pending before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki District courts.

Separate from the law, the government provides financial aid to foreign atomic bomb sufferers but sets, in principle, an upper limit at ¥179,000 a year.

In January 2011, the South Korean plaintiffs asked the Osaka Prefectural Government to cover the costs for treatment of heart failure, but the prefecture rejected the demand, according to the court.

Some 4,450 atomic bomb survivors whose health was affected by the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki live abroad, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said. South Korean residents account for about 3,060 of them, followed by some 990 living in the United States and about 150 in Brazil, the ministry said.