• Kyodo

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A North Korean group representing survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki said Saturday it will ask Japan for help to build a hospital to treat them.

Jon Jong Hyok, secretary general of the Korean Atomic Bomb Victims Association for Anti-Nuclear Peace, told Kyodo News the association will ask Japan to help set up a hospital in North Korea to treat Koreans who were in the cities in August 1945.

Jon also said the organization will urge Japan to provide Korean victims with the same assistance that Japanese survivors receive under Japanese law, establish a memorial monument for Koreans killed in the attacks and release related documents.

It also wants a public apology from Tokyo for forcibly taking people from its colony on the Korean Peninsula to perform labor in Japan.

Asked about a Japanese government plan to help survivors in North Korea receive treatment in Japan, Jon said Tokyo had similar measures for survivors in South Korea, but they had not produced significant results.

The plan would not be appropriate for aging sufferers in North Korea, which has no diplomatic relations with Japan, Jon added.

Tokyo has refused to pay medical allowances to survivors of the bombings who live outside Japan.

Jon also said the association had confirmed 1,953 atomic bomb victims in North Korea as of the end of February. The figure includes those who have already died.

A Japanese government mission conducted research on the health of victims in North Korea in March 2001 and said it confirmed 1,353 victims, of whom 928 were still alive as of late 2000.

Around 100,000 Koreans were exposed to radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and around half are believed to have died, according to an association of South Korean atomic bomb victims.

North Korea postponed unofficial talks with Japan’s health ministry scheduled for late March that would have taken up the issue of providing aid to survivors in the North.

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