Court rules aid wrongly denied to bomb survivors

TOKYO – Survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who now live abroad are entitled to the same government-paid medical benefits and funeral costs enjoyed by survivors still living in Japan, a Japanese court ruled Tuesday.

The Hiroshima court ruled against the city of Hiroshima, which twice rejected the aid claims of three survivors and the widow of a fourth living in the United States.

Under the Atomic Survivors’ Support Law, survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who are officially recognized by the government are eligible for state health care and other benefits, including monthly allowances of up to $1,260 and free medical checkups. Their funeral costs also are paid.

“The law is designed to broadly provide support to those with health problems resulting from the atomic bombings,” a summary of the district court’s ruling said, adding that those who live abroad also should be eligible.

There are 285,600 atomic bomb survivors, including 5,000 living abroad – many of them Koreans who were brought as soldiers or slave laborers to Hiroshima, Nagasaki and elsewhere in Japan during Tokyo’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula in 1910-45. About 900 survivors live in the United States.

The four survivors involved in the case, including one who died, moved to the United States after surviving the U.S. atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. They later visited Japan and obtained the government certificates to be eligible for the government support program.

When they sought their allowances in 2003 and 2004 by submitting documents by mail, however, Hiroshima officials denied their claims on grounds they did not live in the city.

One of the four, Teruko Morinaka, a 73-year-old Japanese-American born in Ohio, was visiting Hiroshima, her father’s hometown, at the time of the bombing and has since developed liver ailments due to radiation exposure.

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