Hiroshima doctors plan to aid North Korean A-bomb survivors

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

A delegation of eight doctors from the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association has visited North Korea to explore the possibility of providing medical aid to A-bomb survivors living there. At a press conference held at the Hiroshima Prefectural Government Office on September 18 after their return home, Dr. Shizuteru Usui, the delegation leader, expressed their intention to launch a medical support program, including physical checkups, as early as next year. Dr. Usui added that they had reached an agreement with a North Korean hospital for the provision of facilities and doctors.

On September 10 to 13, the delegation met with local A-bomb survivors and inquired about their health. They also visited medical facilities and donated medical magazines. A general hospital with 1,300 beds agreed to cooperate for the implementation of physical checkups.

Dr. Usui pressed the point that, because of the absence of diplomatic ties between Japan and North Korea, A-bomb survivors living in North Korea are overlooked in the Japanese government’s aid program for overseas survivors. He stated that survivors there have aged just like the ones in Japan, and they are now hoping for some continuing medical support.

Dr. Usui is also the president of Japanese Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which last year proposed to members of Korean Anti-Nuke Peace Physicians (the corresponding organization in North Korea) that some doctors from Hiroshima might provide physical examinations to North Korean survivors. The idea has been under development since then.

(Originally published on September 19, 2008)

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