Securing People’s Health Rights is Our Common Task

Min-Iren and Korean medical workers join in a mini symposium in Hiroshima

Co-sponsored by Min-Iren and the members of the Association of Physicians for Humanism and the Korean Federation Medical Activist Groups for Health Rights from the Republic of Korea, a mini symposium was held at Fukushima Co-op Hospital of Hiroshima, where 30 people took part.
In the ROK, under the Free Trade Agreement with the US, over 50% of the total workforce has been made non-regular workers, with social gaps widening and poverty deepening among the people. In this situation where medial care and services become more and more out of the reach of ordinary people, some people in the ROK are turning their eyes on the activities of Min-Iren working to bring democratic changes to the medical services in Japan, where people’s impoverishment is in progress in a similar manner. They want to learn from Min-Iren and are trying to create an organization similar to Min-Iren. The mini symposium in Hiroshima was convened against such a background.
From the Korean side, 9 members, including doctors and dentists, joined with executive members of national Min-Iren and doctors from Hiroshima Min-Iren in the symposium held during the period of the 2012 World Conference against A & H Bombs-Hiroshima.

“I want to know more about Min-Iren”
In the symposium, President Fujisue Mamoru of Min-Iren gave a lecture entitled, “History of Min-Iren and its aim”. His lecture was followed by active discussion on how to develop movements and campaigns in Japan and Korea for peace, against nuclear power, and to protect people’s health rights.
Korean participants were surprised to learn the history of Min-Iren’s movement. Prof. HWAHG SANG-ik of the Medical School of National Seoul University said, “I was impressed to know that during the period when Japan put Korea under colonial rule, there was a proletarian class clinic movement (the origin of Min-Iren) in Japan, which opposed Japan’s war of aggression and struggled to defend human rights of workers and farmers. I want to know more about Min-Iren.”

Hibakusha in Korea
The symposium shed light on the fact that breaking free of nuclear power generation and denuclearization of the country is not the agenda only for Japan. The Korean participants reported that their government of Lee Myung-bak had a plan to increase the number of nuclear power reactors in Korea from the current 21 to 56. Even after the serious accident at the Fukushima Daiichi, it maintained that “Korea was not affected at all.” But if there is an accident at a nuclear power plant in Korea, not only Korea but also Japan will be contaminated.
By the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, 140,000 people were killed by the end of that year, including 20,000 Korean residents. It means there are still a large number of surviving A-bomb victims living in Korea. Dr. Aoki Katsuaki of Hiroshima Kyoritsu Hospital, working on the medical examination and health control of the A-bomb survivors living outside Japan, stated that protecting the health rights of the Hibakusha is the common task of Japan and Korea.

In anticipation for a dawn of new cooperation and exchange
In addition to the above, the symposium confirmed that securing of people’s health rights by removing inhibitory elements of health, including poverty, deficiency in social security systems and radiation contamination and wars, should be the mission of those in medical professions. A proposal was made to consider and carry out researches and investigations through joint efforts of Japanese and Korean medical workers.
The young participants from the Korean side, mainly in their 20s to early 40s, made us feel a dawn of new cooperation and exchange between the two countries.
(Article by Nagase Fumio, Secretary General of the national secretariat of Min-Iren)