Medical coverage to be improved for hibakusha abroad

JIJI

Measures to support hibakusha living overseas will soon be bolstered, welfare minister Norihisa Tamura said at a recent news conference.

The announcement was made after the Osaka District Court ruled on Oct. 24 that the prefecture’s refusal to cover medical expenses for A-bomb survivors overseas was illegal under the Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Law.

The law allows hibakusha living abroad to claim financial aid while in Japan, but not when they are outside the country.

Noting that the government allows hibakusha in Japan to be covered when they receive medical treatment overseas, the court thus said that the relief law should also be interpreted as including those hibakusha abroad who seek medical help outside Japan.

As of March, there were about 4,400 hibakusha living abroad.

These people are not eligible for aid under the relief law but can receive up to ¥180,000 in annual medical subsidies per person via a separate government support program that was launched in fiscal 2004.