HIROSHIMA – Nearly 42 percent of atomic bomb survivors living abroad are not satisfied with the Japanese government’s support measures, according to a Kyodo News survey conducted ahead of the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Some overseas survivors have taken legal action, hoping they would be granted full medical coverage that is given to survivors living in Japan.
The survey was conducted in June and July through questionnaires sent by mail or interviews, covering about 210 atomic bomb survivors residing overseas. A total of 117 people — 50 in South Korea, 29 in the United States and 38 in Brazil — responded.
Of those unhappy with the support measures, 12.0 percent said they are “not satisfied at all” and 29.9 percent are “not satisfied so much.”
Atomic bomb survivors do not have to pay medical expenses when they receive treatment in Japan, but the law does not apply to those who go to hospitals abroad.
Instead, overseas survivors receive up to ¥300,000 per year to cover medical costs.
One of the respondents living in the United States said they have to shoulder “too much” costs by themselves, while another called for removal of the upper limit for the grant money so that survivors can receive medical treatment “without worries.”
A man living in Brazil said, “It is unacceptable from a humanitarian viewpoint to say that (overseas) survivors cannot be supported because they live abroad.”
Meanwhile, 10.3 percent of the respondents said they are “extremely satisfied” with the support. Those feeling satisfied to a certain extent and those who think the support is neither good nor bad accounted for 21.4 percent each.
Looking at the current international situation, 86.3 percent said they fear nuclear weapons could be used in the future.
Many survivors living in South Korea in particular expressed concerns about North Korea, which has conducted three nuclear tests.
“We don’t know when the country will use nuclear (weapons),” one respondent said, while another said, “I feel great danger.”
Many survivors living in South Korea are people who returned to their home country after the end of World War II, while survivors living in the United States and Brazil are often Japanese who moved to those countries after the war.
Some 4,300 of atomic-bomb survivors were living abroad — in 33 countries and regions — as of the end of March, with 3,000 of them in South Korea, according to government figures.
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