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Supreme Court rules for Hibakusha living outside Japan

The Supreme Court dismissed the Hiroshima Prefectural Government's appeal and ordered it to pay three Japanese atomic bomb survivors (one of whom died) living in Brazil a total of 2.9 million yen in health care benefits which the prefectural government refused to pay on the grounds of the statute of limitations.

The ruling pointed out that a Health Ministry directive allowing only Hibakusha living in Japan to receive the allowance has no legal basis. It then stated, "By insisting on the statute of limitations, the prefectural government has contravened the principles of faith and trust."

The three plaintiffs moved to Brazil after being exposed to radiation in Hiroshima in 1945. They obtained Hibakusha certificates that qualified them as allowance recipients during their stay in Japan in 1994 or 1995, but the payment stopped when they went back to Brazil.

The prefectural government resumed the payment to the three Hibakusha when the directive was abolished in 2003. However, it paid them retroactively only for five years, claiming the five-year statute of limitations.

In response to this Supreme Court decision, the Health Ministry on the same day decided to pay health care benefits in full to about 300 Hibakusha living outside Japan.
- Akahata, February 7, 2007

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