Hiroshima to provide health care allowances to A-bomb survivors in South Korea

by Uzaemonnaotsuka Tokai, Staff Writer

It was learned on July 17 that the City of Hiroshima, for the first time, has established a policy regarding unpaid health care allowances to atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) in South Korea. According to the policy, the city will begin providing health care allowances as early as the end of September, based on nongovernmental records. The city will invite Kim Yong Gil, president of the South Korean Atomic Bomb Sufferers Association, to city hall in the near future and offer him an explanation.

In line with the 1974 directive issued by the former Ministry of Welfare, health care allowances were cut off when hibakusha left Japan. However, the Japanese government lost a lawsuit filed by overseas hibakusha seeking health care allowances, and the directive was scrapped in 2003. Though the government insisted on a five-year time limit, its claim was dismissed at the Supreme Court in February 2007, leading to the decision that the government would retrospectively provide the plaintiffs with health care allowances for the entire period.

However, most of the municipal and national records concerning health care allowances have been destroyed after 10 years. Korean hibakusha who have come to Japan for medical treatment not under the auspices of the Japanese and Korean governments, but by invitations from private organizations, have no official records and have found it difficult to prove that they received treatment. For this reason, a portion of the health care allowances have not been paid.

In July 2008, the South Korean Atomic Bomb Sufferers Association and the Hiroshima committee to invite Korean A-bomb survivors to Japan for medical treatment submitted their documents on the medical treatment of hibakusha in Korea to the City of Hiroshima. The city has thoroughly examined the documents of about 300 hibakusha, to whom the city, in all likelihood, has not paid health care allowances. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has also approved the provision of health care allowances based on these nongovernmental records. The city is now making a final confirmation of the recipients. Some of the health care allowances are scheduled to be paid at the end of September through the Korean Red Cross Center.

(Originally published on July 18, 2009)

Related articles
Hiroshima group that supports A-bomb survivors in South Korea applies for A-bomb certification as proxy (May 25, 2009)