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A-bomb survivors' group in Brazil disbands after 36 years as members grow old

The Atomic Bomb Dome is seen through the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, in Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park. (Mainichi/Yasunori Sato)

HIROSHIMA -- An association composed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors who moved from Japan to Brazil was dissolved on Dec. 31, 2020, it has been announced.

    The disbandment of the "Brazil Hibakusha Heiwa Kyokai," or "Peace Association of Brazilian A-bomb Survivors," was revealed at a news conference by Kazuyuki Tamura, 78, leader of a group to support A-bomb survivors in Brazil and the United States. While the association's 36 years of activities have officially ended, members will continue to testify about their experiences in the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings, Tamura said.

    The association was formed in 1984 by A-bomb survivor Takashi Morita, now 96, who emigrated from Hiroshima to Brazil, and other members. In collaboration with similar groups in the United States and South Korea, they lobbied the Japanese government and other organizations to ensure A-bomb survivors living outside Japan received the same assistance as hibakusha in Japan.

    The group saw success after the Supreme Court of Japan in 2015 finalized a lower court ruling allowing medical expenses to be paid to survivors overseas. In Brazil, it has become possible for A-bomb survivors to receive examinations at designated hospitals without paying medical expenses since 2019.

    Previously the association had around 270 members, but at the time of its disbandment, membership had decreased to 74. Members decided to dissolve the association for reasons including the costs of continuing to operate as a licensed organization in Brazil, in addition to the aging of members.

    In a message to supporters in Japan, Morita commented, "The word 'hibakusha' has come to be recognized by many people in Brazil as a result of our 36 years of activity."

    (Japanese original by Isamu Gari, Hiroshima Bureau)

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