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Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010
Relief for air-raid survivors?
In the middle of 1944, the United States started large-scale air raids, mostly by B-29 strategic bombers, on Japan. These air raids continued till the end of World War II on Aug. 15, 1945, including the atomic-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Almost all major cities across Japan were targeted.
In the March 10, 1945, air raid on Tokyo, carried out by 279 B-29s that dropped numerous incendiary bombs, more than 100,000 people are said to have been killed. Osaka also suffered several large-scale air raids in March and June 1945.
Survivors and bereaved relatives of victims of the Tokyo and Osaka air raids have filed compensation lawsuits against the government, arguing that they suffered from a war waged by the Japanese state. They ask why only former soldiers and survivors of the atomic bombings and the Battle of Okinawa receive relief, including a soldier's pension. In the Diet, opposition forces have submitted bills to provide relief to air-raid sufferers 14 times in 16 years since 1973, to no avail.
The government maintains that since all citizens equally had to endure damage and suffering from the war, it cannot provide relief to air-raid sufferers in particular.
After the war, the occupation forces headquarters abolished the soldier's pension and the law for providing relief to citizens who suffered from war-caused damage. But after the San Francisco Peace Treaty went into force in 1952, a law was enacted to provide relief to former soldiers and civilian workers for the military who were disabled during their service and to bereaved family members of dead soldiers and civilian workers for the military. A soldier's pension was also revived.
The government bases its principle of providing relief to soldiers and civilian workers for the military on their employment by the government. It is clear that the government adopted relief measures in an ad hoc manner, covering only certain groups of people who suffered because of the war. It should heed the Tokyo District Court's view, in a December 2009 ruling related to this issue, that the Diet should solve the problem through legislation, although the court turned down the plaintiffs' demands.