Japan’s gov’t appeals A-bomb damages ruling

TOKYO, Reuters

Japan’s government said on Friday it is appealing a court ruling ordering a local government to pay compensation to a Korean survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Japanese law does not require the central or local governments to pay medical allowances to survivors living abroad, Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama told a regular news conference.

Earlier this month, a district court ordered the Osaka prefectural government to pay some 170,000 yen (US$1,402) to Kwak Kwi-hun, 76, who now lives in Seoul, saying overseas atomic bomb survivors are entitled to the allowances.

Kwak was serving in Hiroshima with the Imperial Japanese Army when the United States dropped the bomb on the city on August 6, 1945. Up to 80,000 people are believed to have died instantly, and the death toll rose to about 140,000 by the end of 1945, out of an estimated population of 350,000.

Kwak had been drafted into the army in September 1944 during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula, Kyodo news agency said.

He returned to South Korea after the war but when his condition worsened in 1998 he came back to Japan and was officially recognized under the Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Law as suffering from the effects of the bombing.

The Osaka government, which is jointly appealing the court’s ruling with the central government, told him he could receive 34,000 yen per month for five years to cover hospital treatment.

But it stopped the payments because Kwak returned to South Korea soon afterwards. It said the central government had determined in 1974 that laws for atomic bomb victims do not apply to those living outside Japan.

Around 5,000 survivors — both Japanese and foreign nationals — live abroad.