• Kyodo


A Japanese survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki plans to sue the state and the Nagasaki city government for medical benefits the government stopped providing him when he moved overseas in 1994.

Masahito Hirose, a 71-year-old former high school teacher from Nagasaki, said he will file the suit with the Nagasaki District Court possibly this month to seek a 10-month allowance of 320,000 yen he did not receive after moving to China in August 1994.

Although three similar suits have been filed by South Korean A-bomb victims, Hirose will be the first Japanese living abroad to sue the state over nonpayment of health-care allowances, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Hirose said he intends to support the South Korean survivors who are seeking state allowances that were terminated after they returned to South Korea.

He also said he hopes to reveal the “injustice” in the government policy of not applying the Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Law, which provides medical benefits to A-bomb survivors, to those who live overseas.

Hirose, who was in a shipyard about 4.8 km from the hypocenter of the atomic bombing on Aug. 9, 1945, was certified as eligible for medical benefits in 1957. He received allowances from the city of Nagasaki, which is entrusted by the state to provide them.

The payments stopped when he moved to Harbin, northeastern China, in August 1994 to work as a Japanese language teacher but were resumed after he reregistered as a Nagasaki resident in July 1995, even though he was still living in China.

Hirose, who returned to Japan in July 1998, said he still receives the payments. He claims there are no grounds to support the withholding of benefits because he moved to China.

The health ministry maintains the A-bomb victims relief law is a social security law and applies only to people living in Japan.

The ministry refrained from commenting on Hirose’s case before the official filing of the suit.

In June, the Osaka District Court ordered the Osaka Prefectural Government to pay medical expenses of South Korean A-bomb survivor Kwak Kwi Hoon, 77, acknowledging for the first time that overseas survivors are entitled to receive the allowances.

The landmark ruling said it would be unconstitutional not to apply the A-bomb victims relief law to survivors living overseas.

The national and Osaka governments appealed the ruling later in the month.

There are an estimated 5,000 A-bomb survivors who have moved to South and North Korea, China, Brazil and the United States. About 2,300 A-bomb survivors live in South Korea.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.