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Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007

Abe to ministry: Find way to aid war-displaced


Staff writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday told seven members of a group of war-displaced Japanese that he has told the health ministry to look at new ways to help the roughly 2,500 resettled Chinese of Japanese descent who were left behind at the end of the war.

A key component of any plan will likely be a monthly allowance of 130,000 yen for each person, sources said.

Abe did not give any details about financial assistance during the meeting but he told the group that the government is looking at ways to improve their Japanese and help their children and grandchildren land jobs. The war-displaced and their families are in general financially strapped and face discrimination.

Abe told reporters after the meeting, "I told them the government wants to consider steps that will make them feel it was a good decision to come to Japan."

His announcement came one day after the Tokyo District Court rejected a lawsuit from 40 war-displaced Japanese asking for compensation from the government for its failure to swiftly bring them to Japan from China at the end of the war and for not providing adequate support once they had arrived here.

After Tuesday's ruling, Abe told welfare minister Hakuo Yanagisawa to consider new support for the group.

"I am very happy today. I felt like I was in hell yesterday, but I am in heaven today," plaintiff Sumie Ikeda, 62, said after the meeting with Abe at the Prime Minister's Official Residence.

"I asked the prime minister to create a new system of grants so that we can get out of our life depending on welfare and live securely in our home country."

Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers and health ministry officials will come up with specific measures to meet the requests of the "war orphans," said Takeshi Noda, head of the LDP's project team on the war-displaced, who was also in the meeting.

The war-displaced Japanese, who were born in what was then Manchuria in northeastern China or moved there as young children, were left behind in the chaos of 1945.

Japan and China restored diplomatic ties in 1972, but it was not until 1981 that Tokyo began bringing the displaced to Japan on visits to look for kin.

Many of them speak little Japanese and are too old to work. It was only in 1994 that a law was enacted to give them financial support.

Information from Kyodo added



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