Hibakusha in Brazil seek more financial aid from Tokyo via The Japan Times

Financial assistance limited to ¥300,000 annually per person

Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who emigrated to Brazil after the end of the Pacific War are making last-ditch efforts to win the same level of support from the Japanese government as survivors residing in Japan.

“This many people have already died,” Takashi Morita, 90, said in late July, pointing to a list of 101 names posted on a wall in his “Sukiyaki” grocery store in Sao Paulo.

Morita’s store serves as a rough-and-ready office for the Peace Association of Atomic Bomb Victims in Brazil. As the association’s president, over the past 30 years Morita has witnessed membership numbers dwindle to less than half their peak of 270.

Morita was working as a military police officer in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, when he was exposed to radioactive fallout from the atomic bomb.

“It was a real hell,” he says, recalling the countless dead bodies that littered the streets after the blast.

Still suffering from the effects of radiation, he emigrated to Brazil with his family in 1956 after hearing that weather conditions in the South American country might help ease his symptoms.


On Aug. 2, Morita and other association members presented Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was on tour in Brazil, with a letter that expressed the sorrow and the wishes of the 101 deceased hibakusha.

“I mourn for them every day,” apologizing for my failure to win support for them while they were alive, Morita said.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, there were some 4,440 officially recognized hibakusha — eligible for financial support for medical treatment and other expenses related to radiation sickness — in more than 30 countries as of the end of March, including 3,050 in South Korea, 980 in the United States and 150 in Brazil.

The hibakusha association in Brazil currently has 111 members with an average age of 79, and most of them are Japanese nationals.

Among the members is 85-year-old Yoshitaka Samejima. Born in Brazil, he began studying in Japan at age 11, and took part in the Imperial Japanese Army’s rescue operations in Nagasaki on Aug. 10, 1945 — the day after the bombing of the city.


Japan does offer financial support to hibakusha outside Japan, but it is limited to ¥300,000 a year per person — often not enough for expensive treatments such as cancer surgery.

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