By Kim Kwang-tae
A group of 68 ruling and opposition lawmakers yesterday urged Japan to apply its compensation law to atomic bomb victims who live in Korea.
The lawmakers also called on Japan to retract its decision to appeal a recent court ruling which forced Japan to compensate a Korean victim of the atomic bombs.
``The appeal, which comes as an extension of dodging its responsibility over comfort women and the distortion of history textbooks, adds agony to aging victims of the atomic bombs, and is a challenge to humanitarianism,'' said a statement signed by the lawmakers.
On June 1, a district court in Osaka ruled that Japan should pay compensation to victims of atomic bombs regardless of their residence, paving the way for victims residing in Korea to be covered by the Japanese compensation law.
Japan, however, appealed the ruling on the grounds that it cannot pay compensation to victims abroad due to its principle of giving priority to its own people.
The lawmakers also called on Japan to carry out its responsibility toward the victims of atomic bombs, the comfort women issue and the distortion of history textbooks.
Rep. Lee Mi-kyung, who spearheaded the signature-collection movement, said lawmakers conveyed the statement to a Japanese envoy, who will send it to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Lee said she plans to form an alliance with Japanese lawmakers and civic organizations which support Korea in addressing the issue of atomic bomb victims, saying a similar case was made over the comfort women issue.
About 5,000 victims of atomic bombs are believed to live outside Japan. As many as 2,200 are presumed to live in South Korea, and about 930 living in North Korea.
As many as 100,000 Koreans were victims of the atomic bombs, which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. in 1945.