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Court denies full medical coverage for A-bomb survivors in U.S. via 毎日新聞

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) — The Hiroshima District Court on Wednesday denied full medical coverage for survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who now live in the United States.

The court turned down 13 plaintiffs’ demand for revoking earlier decisions by the state and Hiroshima prefectural governments that rejected their requests for full coverage under the Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law.

The plaintiffs, who survived the Aug. 6, 1945 atomic bombing and most of whom are in their 70s and 80s, argued that they should be able to receive full medical coverage even if they live abroad and receive treatment there.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Keiichiro Umemoto said the law basically provides for treatment at designated medical institutions in Japan. “Coverage is approved on the premise that both medical service and expenses are fair. We cannot ensure such fairness at medical institutions outside the country.”

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Under the law, which took effect in 1995, the Japanese government covers all medical expenses for survivors who receive treatment at designated medical institutions in Japan. The provision in principle does not cover expenses paid outside Japan.

In the suit, the state argued that it is difficult to provide full coverage to atomic bomb survivors who receive treatment overseas because each country has its own health-care system and insurance premiums and medical expenses differ from country to country.

Overseas atomic bomb victims can receive Japanese assistance if they undergo treatment in Japan. But many of them are too old or sick to visit Japan for treatment.

Separately, the state provides financial aid to atomic bomb survivors living abroad. The ceiling for the subsidy was raised from roughly 180,000 yen to 300,000 yen per year in April last year.

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