South Korean activists and victims demanded at a U.N. meeting on Friday that Japan should apologize to and compensate Koreans who were taken to Japan as forced laborers and fell victim to the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The demand was made at the Review Conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It was the first time that the issue of Korean A-bomb victims has been raised at a U.N. meeting.
Previous conferences have dealt only with the issue of Japanese victims.
The Hiroshima bombing on Aug. 6, 1945 left about 440,000 killed and injured, and 70,000 were Koreans. The Nagasaki bombing that came three days later left some 300,000 people dead or injured, including about 30,000 Koreans.
Most of these Koreans had been taken to Japan as forced laborers during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.
About half of the Korean victims were believed to have died at the scene. Of the survivors, about 43,000 came back to Korea.
During Friday's U.N. meeting, one Korean survivor, Shim Jin-tae, 72, spoke about how he ended up there, saying his late father was taken as a forced laborer and toiled at a military base in Hiroshima during the colonial rule.
"A considerable number of Korean A-bomb victims were there as forced laborers," Shim said. "Many of those who survived and came back to Korea have died without getting proper medical treatment."
Criticizing Japan for turning a blind eye to Korean A-bomb victims, Shim demanded that the Japanese government apologize and compensate victims. He also said that the United States should also apologize for developing and using nuclear bombs.