South Korean A-bomb survivor applies for medical benefits after certification criteria is revised

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

With the introduction of new criteria for the certification of A-bomb diseases, which has expanded the range of recognition towards A-bomb survivors by the Japanese government, a survivor from South Korea, Jeon Yeong-pan, 74, came to Japan to file an application for medical benefits on May 20. He will stay in Hiroshima for about a week to obtain the necessary documents, including a doctor's statement that indicates the cause of his illness is related to radiation exposure.

A-bomb survivors residing overseas are eligible to receive certain kinds of benefits in their own countries from the Japanese government, such as a basic allowance for health care. However, when they want to apply for a higher medical allowance, they must come to Japan and obtain a statement from a Japanese doctor.

Mr. Jeon was exposed to the atomic bombing at a distance of 1.3 kilometers from the hypocenter and now suffers from a brain tumor. At the end of April, he learned about the revision of the A-bomb disease certification criteria through a notice issued by the Republic of Korea National Red Cross and then decided to come to Japan at his own expense. On May 20, Mr. Jeon arrived in Japan and visited Hiroshima City Hall to begin the application process. “My medical expenses for tests and surgery are very high,” said Mr. Jeon. “I hope my case is approved right away once I submit the documents.”

Keisaburo Toyonaga, Director of the Hiroshima branch of the Association of Citizens for the Support of South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims, contends that “A-bomb victims who live overseas and suffer from serious health conditions, like cancer, are forced to come to Japan to apply for benefits. The government should make it possible for them to apply for benefits in their own countries.”