Supporters in Hiroshima welcome Osaka court decision in favor of A-bomb survivors overseas

by Daisuke Neishi, Aya Kano and Masaki Kadowaki, Staff Writers

On October 24, the Osaka District Court revoked the Osaka prefectural government’s decision not to pay the medical expenses of A-bomb survivors in South Korea. The lawsuit had been filed by a survivor and bereaved family members in South Korea in connection with the coverage of medical costs for A-bomb survivors by the national government under the Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law. The attorneys and supporters of A-bomb survivors in the United States who have filed a similar lawsuit with the Hiroshima District Court welcomed the ruling, hoping that survivors overseas will be able to receive medical support on a par with those living in Japan.

In March 2012, 13 A-bomb survivors who live in the United States, ranging in age from 74 to 84, filed a lawsuit against Hiroshima Prefecture, which did not accept their applications for the reimbursement of medical expenses. They asked the court to revoke the prefectural government decision and to order the prefectural government and the national government to pay compensation of 1.1 million yen per person.

Shuichi Adachi, an attorney for the plaintiffs, commented, “The A-bomb Survivor’s Relief Law does not restrict payments by the national government for the medical expenses of those who live overseas. This was a fair ruling.” With regard to the lawsuit in Hiroshima, he said, “A similar ruling may well be expected. Survivors of the atomic bomb are aging. The national and prefectural governments must not prolong the lawsuit. They must approve these payments as soon as possible.”

Keisaburo Toyonaga, 77, a supporter of the lawsuits filed by A-bomb survivors in Brazil and in the United States, also welcomed the court decision. “This is a historic ruling,” he said, “and a breakthrough for future lawsuits calling for support to survivors overseas.”

Meanwhile, the Hiroshima Legal Affairs Bureau said, “We are not in a position to comment on the lawsuit in Osaka.” The Atomic Bomb Survivors Support Division of Hiroshima Prefecture said, “As the case is pending in court, we cannot comment at this time.”

(Originally published on October 25, 2013)