S. Korean A-bomb survivors to sue Seoul over Japanese compensation

August 07, 2013

By AKIRA NAKANO/ Correspondent

HAPCHEON, South Korea--South Korean survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are planning a group lawsuit that demands the South Korean government put pressure on Japan to provide compensation, sources said.

The 80 or so South Koreans say they have the right to make individual claims against Japan for damages related to the atomic bombings. They want Seoul to intensify efforts to start negotiations with Tokyo to resolve the issue.

“Without Japan’s colonial occupation, many South Koreans would not have become victims of the atomic bombings,” said Shim Jin-tae, 70, a representative of a South Korean group of atomic bomb survivors in Hapcheon. “The Japanese government should apologize and offer compensation, and the South Korean government also has a responsibility to settle the issue.”

In Hapcheon, a gathering to mourn victims of the bombings was held on Aug. 6, the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The Japanese government provides special allowances to those certified as “hibakusha” atomic bomb victims.

However, Japan argues that war-related compensation issues concerning South Koreans “have been settled completely and finally” under the 1965 Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Cooperation between Japan and South Korea, which was signed when Tokyo and Seoul normalized diplomatic relations.

The South Korean government in 2005 rejected Japan’s stance after it disclosed all documents on the normalization talks between Tokyo and Seoul.

“Hibakusha and ‘comfort women’ (a euphemism for those who provided sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II) of the imperial Japanese military are not included in the scope of the agreement,” the South Korean government said.

About 2,600 South Korean victims of the atomic bombings brought the issue to South Korea’s Constitutional Court. In August 2011, the court ruled, “It is an omission and a human rights abuse that the South Korean government does not negotiate with Japan (over compensation for atomic bomb survivors) despite the differences in interpretations between South Korea and Japan.”

The same year, the South Korean government called on Japan to start negotiations over the issue. So far, no talks have been held.

By AKIRA NAKANO/ Correspondent
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South Korean Kwak Poong-ja, second from left, is seeking a 'hibakusha' certificate from the Japanese government through a lawsuit at the Nagasaki District Court. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

South Korean Kwak Poong-ja, second from left, is seeking a 'hibakusha' certificate from the Japanese government through a lawsuit at the Nagasaki District Court. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • South Korean Kwak Poong-ja, second from left, is seeking a 'hibakusha' certificate from the Japanese government through a lawsuit at the Nagasaki District Court. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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