HIROSHIMA – A private research delegation left Hiroshima on Sunday for North Korea to survey survivors of the August 1945 atomic bomb attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is the first time a private research team has visited North Korea to survey the condition of A-bomb survivors, or hibakusha, some of whom were forced laborers.
The delegation is led by lawyer Kenichi Takagi and includes Lee Sil Gun, chairman of the association of Korean atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Delegation members are scheduled to visit North Korea from Sunday to Thursday. They will meet with Chon Jong Hyok, secretary general of an A-bomb survivors’ association, and Korean survivors there.
They are also expected to visit a radiation research institute during their stay.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry was supposed to have started a support project this month for such survivors abroad. The project is to shoulder travel costs for visits to Japan to treat aftereffects.
The start of the project, however, has been delayed due to opposition from groups of A-bomb survivors in South Korea and Brazil. They say it would be difficult for the elderly to make the trips to Japan.
Chon also indicated that Korean survivors should not visit Japan for medical treatment under the plan. “First, the Japanese government should offer an apology and provide compensation,” he said.
Based on a survey in March 2001, the government announced that 928 survivors of the A-bomb attacks in Japan live in North Korea.
The North Korean A-bomb survivors association said that as of February 2001 there were 1,953 people affected by the A-bomb blast in the country, although some of that number had already died.
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