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Hiroshima court recognizes Hiroshima ‘black rain’ victims outside designated area as hibakusha after 75 years

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kjkljlkmlmùIn this October 2019 file photo, the cenotaph for the 1945 atomic bombing victims is seen at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Atomic Bomb Dome is seen in the background.

Japan court recognizes Hiroshima ‘black rain’ victims outside designated area as hibakusha

July 29, 2020

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) — A Japanese court ruled Wednesday that state health care benefits should be extended to people who were exposed to radioactive “black rain” after the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima outside a zone currently recognized by the government.

The Hiroshima District Court ruled in favor of a suit filed by 84 plaintiffs in their 70s to 90s. It said they should receive the same health care benefits as provided for atomic bomb survivors who were in the zone where the state has recognized black rain fell.

It is the first court decision regarding the boundary of the area affected by radioactive rain and subsequent health problems among survivors.

Presiding Judge Yoshiyuki Takashima said, “It is possible black rain fell outside the designated zone and reasonable to conclude that they were affected by radiation if they were exposed (to such rain.)”

The court then determined that the plaintiffs developed diseases specific to atomic bomb survivors due to the effect of black rain.

Following the ruling, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference the government has not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

The designated area lies northwest of the hypocenter of the atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945 and measures about 19 kilometers in length and 11 km in width.

People who were recognized as being in the affected area at the time of the bombing are eligible to receive periodic health checkups free of charge. Among them, those who developed illnesses believed to be caused by radiation effects can receive free health care services in principle.

The 84 plaintiffs including deceased individuals represented by family members developed such illnesses as cancer and cataracts after they were exposed to black rain containing radioactive materials outside the designated area and consumed contaminated food and water.

They had applied to the city and prefectural governments of Hiroshima for health care benefits for atomic bomb survivors between 2015 and 2018, but their applications for atomic bomb survivors’ certificates were turned down.

The plaintiffs sued the Hiroshima city and prefectural governments from 2015, seeking the nullification of their decisions.

The local governments insisted there was no scientific evidence that radioactive rain fell on areas outside the designated zone and the plaintiffs’ health problems were caused by their exposure to radiation.

The ruling was also welcomed by people in Nagasaki Prefecture, where an atomic bomb was also dropped three days after Hiroshima and there are survivors who claim to have been exposed to radioactive rain but have not been eligible for the state’s healthcare aid.

“(The ruling) departed from the unscientific ways of judging whether plaintiffs are ‘hibakusha’ (A-bomb survivors) simply based on distances (from the hypocenter) and administrative jurisdictions,” said Koichi Kawano, an 80-year-old resident of the town of Nagayo in Nagasaki, who survived the bombing.

Japan’s law on supporting atomic bomb survivors defines victims eligible for state aid in the following four categories.

They are those who were directly exposed to the bombing, people who entered within 2 km from the hypocenters of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in the period of two weeks from the attacks, those who were affected by radiation while rescuing survivors or other reasons and fetuses exposed to radiation in the womb.

The plaintiffs claimed they fit into the third category.

Hiroshima court recognizes atomic bomb ‘black rain’ victims

July 29, 2020

TOKYO — A Japanese court on Wednesday for the first time recognized people exposed to radioactive “black rain” that fell after the 1945 U.S. atomic attack on Hiroshima as atomic bomb survivors, ordering the city and the prefecture to provide the same government medical benefits as given to other survivors.

The Hiroshima District Court said all 84 plaintiffs who were outside of a zone previously set by the government as where radioactive rain fell also developed radiation-induced illnesses and should be certified as atomic bomb victims. All of the plaintiffs are older than their late 70s, with some in their 90s.

The landmark ruling comes a week before the city marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. bombing.

The U.S. dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killing 140,000 people and almost destroying the entire city. The plaintiffs were in areas northwest of the ground zero where radioactive black rain fell hours after the bomb was dropped.

The plaintiffs have developed illnesses such as cancer and cataracts linked to radiation after they were exposed to black rain, not only that which fell but also by taking water and food in the area contaminated with radiation.

They filed the lawsuit after Hiroshima city and prefectural officials rejected their request to expand the zone to cover their areas where black rain also fell.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the court said the plaintiffs’ argument about their black rain exposure was reasonable and that their medical records showed they have health problems linked to radiation exposure.

One of the plaintiffs, Minoru Honke, who was exposed to black rain at age 4, said more than a dozen people died during the trial. “I want to tell them that we won,” he said.

Osamu Saito, a doctor who has examined atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima, welcomed the ruling for considering the survivors’ welfare based on an assumption that anyone who was in these areas and hit by the rain could have been affected by radiation.

Earlier in the day, dozens of plaintiffs walked into the Hiroshima court in the rain, showing a banner saying “Certificates to all ‘black rain’ victims.” As soon as the ruling was issued, lawyers for the plaintiffs ran out of the court, showing a banner saying “Full victory,” and their supporters applauded and cheered.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the government will closely examine the ruling and respond after consulting with related government agencies and Hiroshima officials.


August 3, 2020 - Posted by | Japan | ,

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