S. Korean survivors call for Hiroshima compensation

TOKYO, Reuters

South Korean survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima gathered in the city’s Peace Memorial Park on Sunday, a day ahead of the 56th anniversary of the bombing, and called for compensation for victims now living abroad.

The ceremony, at a monument to the 2,588 South Koreans who died as a result of the bomb, was attended by some 200 South Korean survivors and their families, Kyodo news agency said.

There are about 2,300 survivors now living in South Korea, who have been unable to receive benefits under Japan’s Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Law because they have left Japan.

“It is an issue that should be resolved while surviving hibakusha (atomic bombing victims) are alive,” Kyodo quoted Pak So Sung, the chief of the Hiroshima regional unit of the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan, as saying.

In June, a Japanese district court ordered the Osaka prefectural government to pay 170,000 yen (US$1,374) to Kwak Kwi-hun, 76, a Korean survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, who now lives in Seoul.

But the Japanese government appealed the court ruling later that month. Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama has said Japanese law does not require the central or local governments to pay medical allowances to survivors living abroad.

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will attend a ceremony in Hiroshima to mark the anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing attack.

The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the United States on August 6, 1945, is believed to have killed up to 80,000 people instantly, and the death toll rose to some 140,000 by the end of 1945, out of an estimated population of 350,000.