Civilian victims of Battle of Okinawa file PTSD medical certificate in damage suit against government
October 1, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On September 30, a trial hearing of a case involving 79 survivors and survival family members embroiled in the Battle of Okinawa has concluded at Naha District Court. The plaintiffs filed for damages against the Japanese government. The decision will be given on March 16, 2016. Prior to the final defense plea, the plaintiffs handed over the medical certificates of 37 people, who were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric issues caused by war experiences, to the court. According to the lawyers, it is the first time in which war victims pursuing damages from the state have submitted medical certificates about psychological damage.
The government claims that the war occurred when Okinawa was under the Meiji Constitution. On that basis, it rejects the plaintiffs’ argument and claims the state is exempt from responsibility for compensation. It also argues for ‘tolerance theory’ – the idea that the governed should equally tolerate damages caused during the war.
At the final hearing, lead lawyer Shigeru Zukeyama stressed, “War damage is the biggest infringement of basic human rights.” Pointing out the particularity of the Battle of Okinawa, including atrocities by Japanese soldiers, Zukeyama counterargued that the Meiji Constitution also guaranteed protection of the lives and bodies of subjects.
At a press conference, one of the leading plaintiffs, Chieko Nozato said, “I question a government attitude that does not heal the wounds of war. I hope the decision will be for citizens.” 78-year-old Yoko Kamiya, who was diagnosed with PTSD, made stated, “I have never forgotten the war. I hope the judge will understand the suffering and pain of victims.”
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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