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OSAKA (Kyodo) South Korean relatives of some 400 now-deceased atomic bomb victims will soon file a lawsuit against Japan for refusing to pay health care benefits to victims living abroad, their supporters said Friday.

The damages suit will be lodged with the Osaka District Court as early as the end of August, and there are plans to file more suits with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki district courts, according to the support group, the Association of Citizens for Supporting South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims, based in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture.

The plaintiffs are likely to seek compensation equivalent to the amount paid to hibakusha who have filed similar suits against the government.

The Supreme Court in November 2007 declared illegal a 1974 decision issued by the former Health and Welfare Ministry that atomic bomb survivors would lose their right to receive health care benefits upon leaving Japan.

After the top court decision became final and binding, the government paid a lump sum of ¥1 million each to the atomic bomb survivors on the condition that they were found by the courts to have suffered due to nonpayment of health care benefits.

The government reached similar compromise settlements with some 1,800 atomic bomb sufferers and their next of kin in South Korea, Brazil and the United States at the Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki district courts, according to the health ministry.

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