Korean victims of the World War II Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings were remembered during the 74th-anniversary ceremony in South Korea.
Around 400 Korean survivors and their families attended the ceremony held in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Tuesday morning, according to Korea Herald. They were joined by Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo and South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyung-soo, and many others.
Hapcheon is also referred to as “Korea’s Hiroshima” as many South Koreans in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time of the attack eventually settled there after the end of World War II.
In Park’s address, he promised “continuous and systematic support” for the Korean survivors of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.
Over 200,000 people were killed in the nuclear attack. While most of the victims were Japanese, other casualties included the thousands of Koreans who had been taken there against their will as forced laborers.
The government estimates that 70,000 to 100,000 of those killed in the bombings were Koreans. Among them, 40,000 to 50,000 were killed instantly or in the aftermath, the report noted.
“Japan threatened peace in Asia as well as the rest of the world by provoking a war, which ended only after an atomic weapon was used,” Park said. “Today we remember the victims, heal the pain and the memories, and pave the way for future peace.”
He also pledged to assist survivors and discussed benefits and compensation that are enabled through recent legislation.
According to the report, an initiative was launched in July 2017 for atomic bombing survivors that extends support to victims’ descendants, provides assistance for their health and financial security and executes memorial projects.
Data gathered by a government research institute from a survey of 2,283 conducted in August 2018 showed that survivors and their children were more prone to physical and mental illnesses as well as financial difficulties.
The ministry, which promised to support the needs of the survivors based on the data from the survey, spends around 5 billion South Korean won ($4.1 million) a year in helping the victims. Assistance provided by the government sector includes medical expenses of 100,000 won ($82) per month, 350,000 won ($288) a year for health examinations, 1.5 million won ($1,234) for funeral costs, and copayments not covered by the National Health Insurance.
“The Japanese government insists they have resolved the issue of reparations for Korean victims. Not once did they offer official condolences to the victims and their families,” Junko Ichiba, leader of a Japanese civic support group for Korean atomic bomb survivors, said in a condolatory address.
“Prime Minister Abe stood on the ground of Hiroshima this morning and never spoke a word about the Korean victims. It is as if the Japanese government is trying to erase Korean victims.”
Featured images via the Ministry of Health and Welfare