Korean Hibakusha wins overall victory in court

A Korean Hibakusha (atomic-bomb survivor), demanding that the Japanese government pay him Hibakusha allowance and compensation, on December 5 won an overall victory in the Osaka High Court.

78-year old Kwak Kwi Hun had been receiving the Hibakusha health care allowance based on the Hibakusha Aid Law, but when he returned to his country, the Japanese government terminated his benefits*. In 1998, Kwak filed a lawsuit against the Japanese and Osaka prefectural governments with the Osaka District Court, demanding that the allowance and compensation be paid. The district court in June 2001 ruled that the allowance cut-off is illegal and ordered the prefectural government to pay. The Japanese government, however, appealed to a higher court, but the high court has again turned down the government's argument.

Commenting on the court decision, Kwak said that he as Hibakusha should be eligible to the Hibakusha Aid Law because he was forced to come to Japan and was thus exposed to radiation. He said, "No matter where I am living, I am a Hibakusha."

The Japan A-bomb Sufferers Organization (Hidankyo) on the following day visited the Health, Welfare, and Labor Ministry to request that the ministry accept the court rule and not appeal to the Supreme Court.

Japanese Communist Party Kijima Hideo at a Lower House Judicial Affairs Committee meeting also urged the government to sincerely accept the judgment and not to file an appeal to the final court.

Hibakusha living outside Japan: About 5,000 Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are believed to live outside Japan. After WWII, they returned to their native countries, including Korea and China, or emigrated to the United States, Brazil, and other countries. Only 1,500 Hibakusha living outside Japan are officially recognized as Hibakusha, but they fail to receive the Hibakusha allowance on the grounds that they do not live in Japan. (end)