THE HAGUE – Two Dutch men who were detained in a prison camp in Nagasaki during the war and survived the 1945 atomic bombing of the city are preparing to apply for Japanese recognition as A-bomb sufferers so they can get medical benefits, they said.
Their move has come on the heels of the legal amendment in June that allows survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima who currently live outside Japan to apply for such recognition at Japan’s overseas diplomatic posts.
The two will make the applications through the Japanese Embassy in the Netherlands.
It is rare for former captives of the Imperial Japanese Army to file such applications as it has been widely believed that overseas survivors are mainly those of Japanese nationality who later moved to Brazil, or South Koreans who were brought to Japan as forced laborers later during the war.
There are an estimated 70 or more atomic bomb survivors of Dutch nationality, and similar applications are expected to be filed with the Japanese government in the future.
The two men — Ronald Scholte, who currently resides in the southern Netherlands, and Armand Busselaar from The Hague — became aware of the possibility of obtaining health-care benefits for radiation-related illness through a local supporters’ group called Pelita this summer. Both are now 84.
Scholte and Busselaar are set to apply for preliminary examinations with the Nagasaki city government shortly through their proxies and will go into the actual procedures following the implementation of the amendment slated for later this year.
In the interview, Scholte said he wants to be recognized as a survivor and receive support as soon as possible.
Scholte said it is possible to prove they are survivors of the atomic bombing because the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the city government still keep lists of prisoners’ names.
Earlier this year, the Japanese Embassy in the Netherlands received an inquiry from members of a group seeking compensation for war victims about how to apply for medical benefits with the Japanese government, according to embassy officials.
The group has sent letters to Dutch survivors to confirm if they are interested in filing for recognition.
“The planned move by the two men is expected to shed light on former war prisoners who have been kept in the dark about aid for atomic bomb victims and to pave the way for more relief to more victims,” said Nobuto Hirano, a 61-year-old representative of a Nagasaki-based group supporting atomic bomb survivors abroad.
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