Hiroshima Insight

A-bomb survivors living abroad

The number of survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who now live overseas is about 4,450 in 38 countries and regions (as of the end of fiscal 2012). The majority of them are South Koreans who returned to their country after the war and Japanese who immigrated to the United States, Brazil, and other countries.

In 1974, the Health and Welfare Ministry (today’s Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry) issued a directive, stipulating that A-bomb survivors who leave Japan would not be eligible for relief measures and would no longer be eligible to receive any allowances. The Japanese government, however, lost a legal challenge to this directive and it was repealed in 2003. Today, survivors who live overseas are able to receive allowances, and applications for such assistance can be filed from abroad. When the revised Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law took effect in 2008, Japan’s diplomatic outposts around the world began to accept applications for the Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Certificate, too. The gap in relief measures between survivors in Japan and survivors overseas seems to have narrowed, but despite the fact that the Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law states that the Japanese government will cover all medical expenses for A-bomb survivors, in practice it does not reimburse survivors overseas for health costs incurred in their countries. Outside the framework of the law, the Japanese government assists them with medical expenses, but above a certain ceiling, the amount must be paid by the survivors themselves.