A 95-year-old Dutch former prisoner of war held in Nagasaki when the US attacked the city with an atomic bomb has won compensation from the Japanese government, becoming the first ex-POW to receive such redress, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Monday’s court-mediated settlement came after Willy Buchel filed a lawsuit in May last year for mental anguish suffered in the years after the 1945 bombing, lawyer Hidekazu Zaima said.
The legal settlement, in which Buchel will receive 1.1 million yen (about $9,700), is the first reached between the Japanese government and a former POW who suffered radiation exposure due to atomic bombing, Zaima said.
Buchel was in a prison camp some 1.7 kilometers (one mile) from ground zero in the southwestern Japanese city on August 9 when the bomb exploded, killing more than 70,000 people.
He returned to the Netherlands in 1950 and was not able to receive full medical coverage provided to Japanese A-bomb survivors, Zaima said.
Buchel “was forced to continue living while suffering from peculiar health damage caused by his exposure to radiation” but without access to medical care Japanese law provided to A-bomb survivors, Japan’s Kyodo News quoted him as saying in the lawsuit.
The settlement “bears grave importance” as the result provides compensation to an A-bomb survivor outside Japan for violation of his rights and infliction of mental damage, Zaima told a press conference on Monday.
The Nagasaki bomb followed one dropped three days before on the city of Hiroshima where about 140,000 people are estimated to have been killed, including those who survived the bombing but later died from radiation sickness.