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Five groups of atomic bomb survivors in Nagasaki on Thursday asked Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to provide government benefits to A-bomb survivors in the prefecture who have been ineligible for assistance.

Leaders of the five groups also asked the government to immediately begin providing overseas hibakusha the same benefits they receive.

The officials met with Koizumi at a Nagasaki hotel after the prime minister attended the city’s annual ceremony marking the anniversary of the U.S. bombing.

“The ceremony made me realize once again that war has left a serious scar (in Nagasaki),” Koizumi told the representatives. “The government will do its best to help A-bomb survivors solve their remaining problems.”

But the prime minister stopped short of spelling out specific measures to assist survivors here and abroad.

Chikara Sakaguchi, minister of health, labor and welfare, who accompanied Koizumi, said the government plans to reach a decision on the two issues “by the end of the year.”

The representatives want the government to conduct health checks on survivors of the Nagasaki bombing who have not been eligible for benefits because they live outside the area officially designated as affected by the blast — about 12 km from north to south and 7 km from east to west of the hypocenter.

An estimated 8,500 survivors falling into this category have developed mental and physical illnesses as they have aged, which they argue are caused by trauma and radiation exposure.

Sakaguchi said the ministry is reviewing scientific data on these residents.

“The prime minister expressed a very forward-looking attitude in tackling the issues,” he said. “The health ministry is also studying the issues in a positive manner. I ask you to give us a bit more time.”

After the meeting, Toshiyuki Hayama, 71, one of the five representatives and the head of the Nagasaki prefectural council of A-bomb survivors, said he was disappointed with how it went.

“I thought the health ministry’s job is to help the lives of the people,” Hayama said. “But they appear to put more focus on scientific data than people’s lives. We have to keep lobbying Diet members and raise the public’s awareness of the issues to realize our wishes.”

One bomb mentioned

GENEVA (Kyodo) U.S. President Harry Truman told British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Potsdam, Germany, in July 1945 that the United States planned to drop only one atomic bomb on Japan, according to a document at the Federal Archives Office in Bern.

One month later, the U.S. dropped two bombs on Japan.

U.S. official documents confirm that Truman ordered U.S. strategic air forces to drop an atomic bomb on Japan on or after Aug. 3. He also ordered subsequent bombings “as soon as preparation is completed,” but did not specify the number of bombs to be dropped.

The finding is expected to raise the question of why the second bomb was dropped.

on Nagasaki, which occurred three days after the Aug. 6 attack on Hiroshima.

The document is a memorandum written by Max Petitpierre, then a Swiss state minister, on Feb. 1, 1947. Petitpierre took a leading role in Swiss diplomacy after World War II and later became the Swiss president.

The document covers talks held in Switzerland between Petitpierre and Churchill on Sept. 18, 1946, after Churchill had retired.

According to the memo, Truman told Churchill of U.S. plans to drop the atomic bomb during the Potsdam Conference between the two leaders and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Churchill later told Petitpierre that the U.S. was supposed to drop only one bomb on Japan and had not acted in accordance with plans.

Churchill also observed from the sidelines as Truman informed Stalin of plans to use the atomic bomb. Stalin appeared not to understand the concept or how powerful the new bomb was, Churchill reportedly told Petitpierre.

Churchill also told Petitpierre he thought Truman was not a very intelligent or skillful person.

Meanwhile, diaries of a member of the U.S. Cabinet at that time confirm Truman ordered the U.S. forces to stop using the atomic bomb after the second attack on Nagasaki, saying it would be too horrible to kill another 100,000 people.

Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allies on Aug. 15, 1945, six days after the bomb fell on Nagasaki.

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