On 1 November 2007, the first petty bench of the Supreme Court of Japan dismissed the appeal by the state in the compensation lawsuit filed by Korean survivors of atomic bombing, concluding that “it is illegal for the state not to have granted the allowance to the survivors of atomic bombing who now live abroad”. The forty plaintiffs, twenty-five of them having died after the filing of the suit, were forcibly taken away from the Korean Peninsula to the factories of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Hiroshima City during the World War II and were exposed to the atomic bombing. They have demanded compensation for the state and the company.
The Hiroshima High Court, the second instance court, had ordered the state to pay JPY 48 million compensation in total, which became final as a result of the Supreme Court decision. This is the first case in which a compensation order to the state became final in relation to the measures for A-bomb survivors who live abroad. This is also the first judicial decision that found illegality of an administrative notice and made a compensation order. On the other hand, the Supreme Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim concerning compensation for abduction, following the judgments in the first and second instances.
According to the findings of the Hiroshima High Court in 2005, the plaintiffs were taken away from the Korean Peninsula in about 1944, in accordance with the National Conscription Edict, and taken to the Hiroshima Machinery Factory and other establishments of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Hiroshima City. They were then exposed to the atomic bombing in August 1945. Having returned to the country of origin, they filed the lawsuit in 1995, seeking for the payment of accrued payroll as well as compensation.
The Supreme Court concluded: “The two A-bomb laws [the Law on Medical Treatment of Survivors of Atomic Bombing and the Law on Special Measures for Survivors of Atomic Bombing] do not require ‘a survivor of atomic bombing’ to live in the territory of Japan in order to be qualified for assistance. Even if an individual was given the status of ‘a survivor of atomic bombing’ with the issuance of the A-bomb survivor health certificate and, upon the determination by the Prefectural Governor, was granted the entitlements to the health management and other allowances, he or she would lose the entitlements upon the relocation to any area outside the territory of Japan in accordance with the Notice No.402 [issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1974]. The relevant provisions of the Notice No.402 are not only illegal on the basis of wrong interpretation of the two A-bomb laws but also clearly in breach of the Law on Assistance for Survivors of Atomic Bombing, which combined and replaced the two A-bomb laws”. The Supreme Court pointed out that “it is also illegal, under the State Compensation Law, not to have given the allowances on the basis of misinterpretation of law”, upholding the second instance judgment that had ordered the payment of compensation for mental damage. On the other hand, the Supreme Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim concerning compensation for abduction, referring to the 1965 Treaty between Japan and the Republic of Korea concerning Claims, which invalidated individual claims. (2 November 2007)
Source: "State Compensation for Korean A-Bomb Survivors Fixed", The Tokyo Shimbun, 2 November 2007 [Japanese]
"Foreign A-Bomb Survivors Suit: Summary of Supreme Court Decision", Kyodo News, 1 November 2007 [Japanese]
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