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

How long will it take for the Fukushima victims outside the evacuation zone to be finally all recognized?

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 | , | Leave a comment

‘Hibakusha’ talks scrapped after Nagasaki bomb threat


NAGASAKI–A bomb threat against schools in Nagasaki Prefecture prompted the cancellation of peace-promotion events featuring “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors sharing their horrific experiences in World War II.

We decided to call off an event, giving top priority to the safety of participants,” said an official with the Kita-Kyushu municipal government in Fukuoka Prefecture, also on the southern main island of Kyushu.

An e-mail sent in late July to the Nagasaki prefectural government said elementary and junior high schools would be blown up on Aug. 10 or Aug. 11. No reason was given for the threat.

The Kita-Kyushu government had organized a one-day bus tour to Nagasaki for 270 elementary and junior high school students, as well as their parents, as part of a peace-promotion program.

The initial itinerary included a visit to Shiroyama Elementary School to listen to the accounts of hibakusha on Aug. 9, the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.

The school is near ground zero, and many of its students and teachers were killed in the blast on Aug. 9, 1945.

But tour organizers dropped the visit to the school from the schedule after Shiroyama Elementary School had informed them of the bomb threat.

The scrapped visit to the school gave the tour participants more time to spend at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the site of the hypocenter. In the morning, they visited a civic hall in Nagasaki to watch a live broadcast of a ceremony for atomic bomb victims held at Nagasaki Peace Park.

A group of 15 students ranging from elementary to high school age, also from Kita-Kyushu, canceled an event to hear the atomic bomb survivors’ accounts scheduled for Aug. 10 at Shiroyama Elementary School and elsewhere in light of the bomb threat.

The group visited Nagasaki from Aug. 8 to take part in a peace forum for young people.

The Nagasaki prefectural board of education had urged elementary and junior high schools to refrain from activities on Aug. 10-11. Those days passed without incident in the city.

August 20, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Voice to Survivors from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima

In Japan the Hibakusha are the exposed–exposed to the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now more then ever are the words of the Hibakusha crucial to hear as we contemplate exactly what happens when a nuclear bomb is dropped. Ari’s project documents their testimony. He is in a unique position to do so because his grandfather, Jacob Beser, was the only man in the world to serve as a crewman on both B-29s that dropped the atomic bombs.

In a two-part series, Hibakusha: The Nuclear Family examines the social impact of nuclear technology in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima.

Hiroshima – Today, with some distance of time and perspective, we can think about Hiroshima with a more balanced compassion than a few decades ago. It has become possible to reflect on not only the justification for the first dropping of an atomic bomb on a populated city, but also on how that impacted the many thousands of people caught up in the blast and its aftermath.

It was a bombing American hearts decided was justified — but which minds have largely disconnected from in terms of consequences for humanity. This was evident when the current Republican candidate for President allegedly questioned why we don’t use our nuclear weapons for a third time.


Yoshie Oka returns to the bunker where she survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

Next January, either Donald J. Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton will receive the nuclear football from President Obama. Either one of seemingly the two most controversial people in modern U.S. political history is going be in charge of our nuclear codes, a certain outcome of this election we should be most concerned about.

Seventy-one years ago my grandfather Jacob Beser was flying in the back of a B-29 listening to the radio. He wasn’t listening to Beyonce—He was listening to frequency. He was monitoring a device that was going to end the war. This is what he trained for. This is what he knew and was prepared to die for. If anything went wrong, he was told to eat the device’s frequency code, written on a small piece of paper.


Sumiteru Taniguchi holds up photos of himself immediately after the bombing of Nagasaki. A prominent advocate for nuclear abolition, he was nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

None of that was necessary. He did his job right, and he saw what men were capable of. He saw it twice, over Nagasaki too, and he never expressed guilt about it. But he, like the rest of America, disconnected from the reality of the human suffering 32,000 feet below. He, like the majority of his countrymen, believed in their hearts it was necessary.

When my grandfather looked out the window, he likened the mushroom cloud to sand in the water, the way it billows along the shoreline in the tide. He couldn’t connect with the children in the streets or the people as they packed in train cars on their way to work. He couldn’t connect to the horrors they would experience and live with for the rest of their lives.


Suano Tsuboi moments before meeting President Obama in Hiroshima during the historic Presidential visit to the city on May 27, 2016.

Can we make those connections, America? Can we stop saying “What about Pearl Harbor” long enough to look at what World War II brought humanity to accomplish? Can we ask ourselves, “What will it take to bring us there again?”

I am not asking for a justification. I am not asking for an apology. I am asking that we listen to the stories of the atomic bomb survivors as a testimony to the evils of nuclear war.

Today I invite you to my Facebook community, Hibakusha: The Nuclear Family, where you can learn about what it was like under the mushroom clouds. I’ve called it a Blogumentary. It is an interactive online documentary that begs you to remember what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What happened to the people there could happen to any of us. Listen to their words, not as Japanese, and not as Americans, but as people.

Ari M. Beser is the grandson of Lt. Jacob Beser, the only U.S. serviceman aboard both B-29s that dropped atomic bombs on Japan in World War II. He traveled through Japan with the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship to report on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. Beser’s  storytelling gives voice to people directly affected by nuclear technology today, as he works with Japanese and Americans to encourage a message of reconciliation and nuclear disarmament. His new book, The Nuclear Family, focuses on American and Japanese perspectives of the atomic bombings.


August 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment