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Fukushima Disaster’s Impact on Health Will Be Challenged in Court 

By Thisanka Siripala

February 17, 2022

A link between radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and cancer will be the focal point of the civil court case against operator TEPCO.

Almost 11 years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant catastrophe. But even as Fukushima prefecture gets ready to launch a new revitalization slogan – “Making Fukushima’s reconstruction a reality one step at a time” – it is still struggling to overcome the lingering aftereffects of the accident. Earlier this month, a group of six men and women diagnosed with thyroid cancer as children filed a class action case against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), seeking $5.4 million in compensation.

Eastern Japan was hit by a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake and 15-meter tsunami on March 11, 2011. The disaster shut off power and cooling to three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering the release of radiation for up to six days.

The plaintiffs, who are aged between 17 and 27, are seeking to hold TEPCO responsible for the thyroid cancer they developed. Two have had one side of their thyroid removed and four others have had a complete thyroidectomy and are planning or undergoing radiation therapy. The treatment has forced them to drop out of school or college and give up on their dreams. The plaintiffs argue that their thyroid cancer has created barriers to their education and employment as well as marriage and starting a family.

The Fukushima Daiichi meltdown was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, which was followed by a spike in cancer cases in the region. In Japan a health survey conducted by the Fukushima prefecture found 266 cases of cancer among the 380,000 people aged under 18 at the time of the accident. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs argue that pediatric thyroid cancer is extremely rare, with an annual incident rate of two cases in one million people.

The plaintiffs added that in the past decade they have been forced to stay silent due to social pressure and the risk of public outrage over speaking out about the connection between the Fukushima nuclear accident and their thyroid cancer.

The Federation of Promotion of Zero-Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy, a civic group that includes five former Japanese prime ministers, sent a letter to the EU urging the elimination of nuclear power. In the letter, they stated that many children are suffering from thyroid cancer as a result of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

However, the Japanese government believes there is no causal link between exposure to radiation from the accident and the children developing thyroid cancer. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said at a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting that “it is not appropriate to spread false information that children from Fukushima are suffering from health problems.”

At a press conference Takaichi Sanae, chairperson of the ruling LDP’s Policy Research Council refuted the letter sent by the federation. She stressed the government’s position that the cases of childhood thyroid cancer have been assessed by experts who have determined the accident is unlikely to have caused cancer.

Fukushima prefecture’s expert panel say there could be the possibility of “over-diagnosis” due to increased vigilance after the disaster, suggesting that some patients diagnosed with cancer did not need treatment. They say they are continuing to investigate the nature of each diagnosis. The Ministry of Environment also said they will continue to disseminate knowledge based on scientific findings to dispel rumors about the health effects of radiation.

Last week, the Fukushima reconstruction and revitalization council met to discuss the “diverse needs of the prefecture” and a long term response to support evacuees. Governor of Fukushima Uchibori Masao acknowledged that the prefecture is “facing many difficulties including the reconstruction and rehabilitation of evacuated areas and rebuilding the lives of evacuees and victims of the disaster.” There are also plans to establish a new national research and education organization in Fukushima that will devise measures to prevent and dispel rumors fueling discrimination toward evacuees and Fukushima food.

Taiwan recently lifted its blanket food import ban on Fukushima produce introduced in the wake of the disaster but there are 14 countries and regions that still maintain import restrictions. Additionally, Japan’s decision to discharge more than one million tonnes of low-level radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea is another issue attracting negative publicity abroad.

https://thediplomat.com/2022/02/fukushima-disasters-impact-on-health-will-be-challenged-in-court/

February 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

I couldn’t tell anyone for 10 years

February 2, 2022
Six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27 who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO on January 27, claiming they suffered from thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
They filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court claiming a total of 616 million yen in damages. The main issue in the trial is expected to be whether or not there is a causal relationship between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.

Lawyers and plaintiffs hold a press conference.
At the House of Representatives in Nagata-cho, Tokyo.

The six people in question, aged between 6 and 16 at the time of the accident, are high school students, temporary workers and employees living in the counties of Fukushima, Tokyo and Kanagawa. Two of them had a lobe of the thyroid removed, and the other four had to have the whole thyroid removed because of recurrence (in the case of one of them, metastasis had spread to the lungs). All of them had to stop their studies or their professional activity in order to undergo these surgical procedures and medical treatments. They live in fear and anxiety of a recurrence, and their daily lives have been curtailed due to fatigue and weakness caused by the disease.

The complaint points out that many of the thyroid cancers found in children in Fukushima County – including the six plaintiffs – are not hereditary and that the only possible trigger is radiation exposure. If there are other causes, it is up to TEPCO to prove it, she says.

Normally, the number of reported cases of thyroid cancer in children diagnosed is about 1 to 2 per 1 million. After the nuclear accident, a prefectural health survey in Fukushima Prefecture found about 300 people either suspected of having thyroid cancer or already diagnosed. But the expert commission appointed by the department said it “does not recognize for the moment” a causal relationship with radiation exposure.

For its part, the operator TEPCO announced that it would respond in good faith after learning more about the claims and allegations of the plaintiffs.


I want to change the situation by raising my voice

“We have spent the last ten years without telling anyone because we were afraid of being discriminated against if we revealed that we had thyroid cancer,” said one of the plaintiffs, 26, at a press conference in Tokyo on the afternoon of January 27. “But about 300 children have thyroid cancer,” she said, fighting back tears that choked her. “I want to improve the situation, if only a little, by raising my voice.

The woman from Nakadôri, in central Fukushima Prefecture, was a second-year university student when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015 at the age of 19. The following year, after one of her thyroid lobes was removed, her physical strength decreased dramatically. As her health continued to deteriorate, she left the advertising agency where she was working in Tokyo after graduating from university after a year and a half. She is currently an office worker in Tokyo. She says, “I had to give up my dream job, and I am still struggling to do my job properly. I don’t have any dreams or hopes for the future.
Immediately after she was diagnosed with cancer, she felt very uncomfortable when the doctor told her that the disease had nothing to do with the nuclear accident.


That day, we were moving things…

The plaintiff at a press conference after her decision to sue TEPCO.
lawsuit against TEPCO.

The young woman’s mother, who was with her daughter when she was diagnosed, suddenly remembered what they were doing on March 14, 2011, the day of the hydrogen explosion in the No. 3 unit of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They were outside their grandparents’ house, which was half destroyed by the earthquake, helping them move their belongings. At the end of the day, as soon as the mother heard about the explosion at the plant, she brought her daughter inside. “That day, I shouldn’t have asked you for a hand with the move,” the mother whispered as she drove home from the hospital. It was the only time she showed any remorse for forcing this moving chore on her daughter.

Before she was told she had cancer, the young woman had to travel back and forth between Fukushima and Tokyo for tests. However, the Fukushima county fully covers the medical expenses covered by the health insurance, but not the transportation expenses. So she took long-distance buses, which are cheaper than the high-speed train, but these trips became more and more physically demanding.
Surgery and medical examinations in Tokyo, a heavy financial burden

After the diagnosis, because of her distrust of the hospitals in Fukushima, she preferred to have surgery and medical examinations in Tokyo. Each time, her parents accompanied her. She had to pay the entire cost of the endoscopic surgery to minimize the scars on her neck out of her own pocket, as it was not covered by the prefectural aid at that time.

With all the demands of her treatment, she failed to apply for a renewal of her university scholarship, and by her third year of study, she had to pay her full tuition.

“When I heard my parents talking about taking a large amount of money out of their life insurance to fund my expenses, I felt depressed that I had caused them so much trouble,” she said.
Fear of recurrence: ‘I’m anxious about what comes next’.

After the surgery, she often caught colds, developed pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma. However, she can only receive assistance if the care is recognized as part of the treatment for thyroid cancer. The department has set up an annual budget, funded by a state grant, to cover medical expenses “for as long as possible,” according to the Department of Health Survey, but it’s unclear how long that will last. The young woman, who is still afraid of a recurrence, and feels very anxious about what will happen to her in the future, is therefore asking for more aid.

The article in Japanese in Tokyo Shimbun published on January 27, 2022

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/156781

February 3, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

“I can’t think about marriage, childbirth or the future”

January 30, 2022
A 26-year-old woman with thyroid cancer and lung metastasis sues TEPCO.

Tokyo Shimbun, January 19, 2022

Six young people who developed thyroid cancer after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are seeking to establish the responsibility of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) in court. They have strong doubts that, despite the discovery of thyroid cancer in about 300 people who were children at the time of the accident, no causal link with the accident has been recognized, especially since a reduction in the number of examinations is being considered. “I don’t want this to continue as if nothing happened,” said a 26-year-old woman who lives in the Nakadôri area of central Fukushima Prefecture and is worried about her future after learning that her cancer has spread to her lungs.


17 years old “Why me?”

“The doctor told me there was something suspicious in my neck in addition to the shadow detected on my lungs. I can’t think about marriage, having a child, or anything else in the future,” she says quietly at home that morning of November 11 before heading to her part-time job.

She goes to the hospital once every three months. Her heart sinks when she sees a young child in the waiting room. “The cancer was detected during a test when I was asymptomatic. Reducing the test[1] may not save lives.”

She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March 2013, just before she started her third year of high school, at age 17. “I was told that if I didn’t have surgery, I might not live until I was 23. I tried to believe that everything was okay, even though I kept asking myself, Why me?”

The plaintiff, who underwent two operations to remove her thyroid gland and will have to take medication for the rest of her life. medication for the rest of her life,
is in Fukushima Prefecture.

Two surgeries, a room like a prison cell

Her 57-year-old mother held back tears as she heard the diagnosis along with her daughter. Her daughter entered high school in April 2011, just after the nuclear accident. At first, she wore a mask to protect herself from inhaling radioactive material, but she soon stopped wearing it. She walked 40 minutes each way to school, and participated in outdoor physical education classes. Her mother’s mind was filled with regret: “If only we had evacuated,” she said.

The girl wanted to go to university in Tokyo, but her mother, worried about her health, prevented her from doing so, and she went to university in the nearby prefecture. However, six months later, she began to feel lethargic, tired and had irregular periods. So she was retested.

“There is a recurrence on the remaining lobe of the thyroid gland. There was also a shadow on the lung,” the doctor told her. “I am not cured,” she said, breaking down in tears with her mother. She dropped out of college at age 19 to focus on her treatment.

The two surgeries and tests were difficult trials to endure. During one test, the deeper the needle went into her throat, the more painful it was. She had to undergo three sessions of iratherapy[2]. 2] She was placed in isolation in a cell-like room where she tried to cope by looking out a leaded window.


…but now I want to look forward.

On the day of the coming-of-age ceremony, her playful daughter told her father that she was happy to be able to wear a kimono. Her mother was shocked to learn that their daughter had contemplated death. “I have cancer, I won’t live long,” she repeated to herself, half-joking. This breaks her mother’s heart: “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.

Her cancer marker values are higher than before the operation. Because of fears of recurrence and metastasis, she has given up on the idea of a full-time job in her desired profession. But now she wants to look ahead. “If it wasn’t the accident, why are there so many children with thyroid cancer? Maybe there will be more in the future. I feel I have to do what I can now.

EDITOR’S NOTE
[1] Thyroid ultrasound examination of people living in Fukushima Prefecture who were under 18 years old at the time of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is conducted by Fukushima Prefecture. The decrease in the number of examinations is under discussion; the examination would be a source of concern for the examinees, and these examinations possibly followed by surgery would be a source of overdiagnosis.
[2] Radioactive Iodine Treatment
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/154986?fbclid=IwAR3kenQXIPf2itXHKTp8qU4t-uWy4o8hdjntp1bTmwIDdzpJuiNPBPLAYS8

January 31, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I couldn’t tell anyone for ten years” – Six teenagers who developed thyroid cancer after the nuclear accident file lawsuit against TEPCO 

 

“””We’re scared to be discriminated against when we say we’ve got thyroid cancer, we’ve spent the last 10 years without telling anyone.”””

“But there are approximately 300 children suffering from thyroid cancer.”

“I want to change the situation for the better by raising my voice.”

Six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27 who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO on April 27, claiming that they had thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On the 27th, six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27, who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident, filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court demanding a total of 616 million yen in damages including compensation from TEPCO. The biggest point of contention in the lawsuit is expected to be whether or not there is a causal relationship between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers hold a press conference after filing a lawsuit against TEPCO for compensation for thyroid cancer caused by exposure to radiation from the nuclear power plant accident at the First Legislative Assembly Hall in the House of Representatives in Nagata-cho, Tokyo.

January 27, 2022
The six, who were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the accident, are high school students, part-time workers, and office workers living in Fukushima Prefecture, Tokyo, and Kanagawa Prefecture. They were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in their teens, two had one side of their thyroid gland removed, four had it completely removed due to recurrence, and one had it spread to their lungs. They have had to quit college or work due to the surgery and treatment, and are also worried about the recurrence of the disease as their daily lives are restricted.
 The complaint points out that most of the thyroid cancers found in children in Fukushima Prefecture, including the six children, are not hereditary and that no cause other than radiation exposure is possible. It argues that if there are other causes, TEPCO needs to prove them.
 Normally, the number of cases of thyroid cancer in children that are diagnosed and reported is about one to two per one million people per year. After the nuclear accident, about 300 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected of having thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture through prefectural health surveys and other means, but the prefectural expert panel has stated that a causal relationship with radiation exposure is “not recognized at this time.

A plaintiff woman holds a press conference after filing a lawsuit against TEPCO.

I want to change the situation by raising my voice.
 On the afternoon of April 27, the plaintiff, 26, held a press conference in Tokyo after filing her lawsuit. In a press conference held in Tokyo after the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff, 26, choked back tears as she made her appeal. There are still about 300 children suffering from thyroid cancer. I want to change the situation for the better by raising my voice, even if only a little.
 A woman from Nakadori in central Fukushima Prefecture was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015, when she was a 19-year-old sophomore in college. After an operation to remove one side of her thyroid gland the following year, her physical strength dropped drastically. Her physical condition continued to deteriorate, and she left the advertising agency where she had worked after graduating from university in Tokyo after a year and a half. She is now working as an office worker in Tokyo. She said, “I had to give up my dream job, and it’s still hard for me to work properly. I no longer have any dreams or hopes for the future.
 Immediately after being informed of her cancer, she felt uncomfortable when the doctor told her that it had nothing to do with the nuclear accident.

She was moving outside that day…
 When her mother heard this with her, March 14, 2011, the day of the hydrogen explosion at the Unit 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, came to her mind. She was outside helping her grandparents move their belongings out of their house, which was half destroyed by the disaster. When I heard about the explosion in the evening, I immediately brought the woman inside. I wish I hadn’t let her help me move at that time,” she said. I wish I hadn’t let her help me move. This was the only time she showed any regret.
 The woman traveled back and forth between Fukushima and Tokyo many times for the tests before she was notified. The prefectural government provides full support for insured medical expenses, but does not include transportation costs. I took a long-distance bus, which is cheaper than the bullet train, but it became physically demanding.

Surgeries and examinations in Tokyo, a heavy burden
 Because of her distrust of hospitals in Fukushima, she underwent surgeries and tests in Tokyo after she was notified. Her parents traveled to Tokyo each time, and the endoscopic surgery she underwent to reduce the scar on her neck as much as possible was not covered by the prefectural government at the time, so she had to pay for it herself.
 As the treatment continued, the woman forgot to apply for a non-repayable scholarship from the university, and from her third year, she had to pay the full tuition. She said, “When I heard my parents asking for advice on reconfiguring their insurance, I felt depressed that I had caused them so much trouble.

Fear of recurrence: “I’m worried about what will happen next.
 After the surgery, she caught colds frequently and developed pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma. However, unless it is recognized as treatment for thyroid cancer, he is not eligible for support. The prefectural government’s support for medical expenses is budgeted every year with the government’s subsidies as the source, and “will continue for as long as possible,” according to the prefectural government’s Civil Health Survey Division, but there is no telling how long it will last. However, there is no way to know how long the support will last. The woman said, “I am always afraid of a recurrence, and I am very anxious about what will happen to me in the future. (Natsuko Katayama)

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/156781?fbclid=IwAR1W3fEvpnge1RiedoQw863o8vpHEYxJjkcpBAMjxjnGYQFcT31h5unzBI4

January 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

6 people to sue TEPCO over thyroid cancer after Fukushima nuclear disaster

How may Tepco use now the word “sincerely” when they have shown the whole world their dishonesty and their lack of sincerity repeatedly for the past 10 years?

Kenichi Ido, left, head of the legal team for a group of plaintiffs set to sue TEPCO over thyroid cancer, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on Jan. 19, 2022. (Mainichi/Kazuhiro Toyama)

January 21, 2022 (Mainichi Japan)

TOKYO — A group of six young men and women is set to file a class action suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) claiming that they developed thyroid cancer due to exposure to radiation emanating from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and demand the utility pay a total of 616 million yen (about $5.4 million) in compensation.

It will be the first group lawsuit in Japan by those who were minors at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster and have since been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The plaintiffs, now aged between 17 and 27, were living in Fukushima Prefecture when the nuclear meltdowns occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011, and developed thyroid cancer after the disaster. They are filing the damages suit with the Tokyo District Court on Jan. 27, according to the legal counsel for the plaintiffs who revealed the plan at a press conference on Jan. 19.

An expert investigation committee set up by the Fukushima Prefectural Government has not recognized the causal relationship between radiation exposure from the Fukushima disaster and thyroid cancer, and whether there is such a correlation could be the focal issue in the lawsuit.

The six plaintiffs were aged between 6 and 16 at the time of the nuclear disaster. They were diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 2012 and 2018. Two of them had one side of their thyroid removed, while the other four had their thyroid fully extracted and need to take hormonal drugs for the rest of their lives. One of the patients had cancer spread to their lungs. Some of them currently reside in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government has conducted a survey on thyroid glands covering some 380,000 people aged 18 or younger who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the nuclear catastrophe. As of June 2021, 266 people had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected thyroid cancer. According to the legal team for the plaintiffs, five of the six complainants had their cancer detected in the prefectural survey. The remaining plaintiff found out about their cancer through testing at a hospital they voluntarily underwent.

According to the legal counsel, the cancer discovery rate in the Fukushima Prefecture survey stands several tens of times higher than usual. While the prefectural government points to the possibility of “overdiagnosis” through which many cancer cases requiring no treatment have been found, the plaintiffs’ cancer has actually progressed, the legal team asserted. The lawyers argue that none of the six plaintiffs’ cancer is hereditary, and that it is extremely highly likely that they developed their conditions due to the nuclear disaster.

In past pollution lawsuits including those over Minamata disease, there is a court precedent in which the company responsible for the pollution was ruled liable for compensation unless it could prove there was no causal relationship between the contamination and the plaintiffs’ diseases. The attorneys for the upcoming lawsuit claim that this decision could also be applied to nuclear plant accidents and that TEPCO should bear the burden of proving the absence of a causal link between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.

Kenichi Ido, head of the legal counsel, commented, “Some plaintiffs have had difficulties advancing to higher education and finding jobs, and even given up on their dreams for their future.”

TEPCO released a comment saying, “We will respond to the case sincerely after hearing the content of their claims and their arguments in detail.”

(Japanese original by Kazuhiro Toyama, Tokyo City News Department)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220121/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco sued over thyroid cancer cases – 6 people aged 6-16 at time of Fukushima nuclear accident – Tokyo District Court

Kenichi Ido, a former judge and head of the legal team, pointed out that “the Japanese government is assuming that there is no health damage caused by the accident. Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer, said, “There is strong social pressure to believe that cancer is not caused by the accident, and it took a lot of courage for the six people to file the lawsuit, which is why the time has come.

Lawyers hold a press conference on the policy of filing lawsuits for six people who have developed thyroid cancer in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo on the afternoon of March 19.

January 19, 2022

Six people who were between the ages of 6 and 16 years old at the time of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. On April 19, it was learned that six people, aged 6-16 at the time of the accident and living in Fukushima Prefecture, will file a lawsuit against TEPCO in the Tokyo District Court, seeking a total of 616 million yen in damages. This is believed to be the first lawsuit in which residents are suing for damage caused by the nuclear accident on the grounds that they have developed thyroid cancer.

The legal team representing the six revealed this at a press conference on the same day. The lawsuit is scheduled to be filed on the 27th.
 According to the lawyers, the six are currently residing in Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Fukushima prefectures. Four of them have had their thyroid glands surgically removed, and some have undergone multiple surgeries because of metastasis or recurrence.
 The Fukushima Prefectural Health Survey, which covers about 380,000 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, revealed 266 cases of cancer or suspected cancer in its report last October. In October last year, it was revealed that 266 people had cancer or suspected cancer. Some experts have pointed out the possibility of “over-diagnosis,” in which cancers that do not require treatment are found, but the lawyers are claiming that all six of the cases required surgery, and that this was due to the accident.
 On the other hand, the review committee for the prefectural health survey has stated that radiation is unlikely to be a factor in the development of thyroid cancer.
 Kenichi Ido, a former judge and head of the legal team, pointed out that “the Japanese government is assuming that there is no health damage caused by the accident. Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer, said, “There is strong social pressure to believe that cancer is not caused by the accident, and it took a lot of courage for the six people to file the lawsuit, which is why the time has come.
 TEPCO commented, “If the complaint is served, we will respond in good faith.
https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2022011900881&g=soc&fbclid=IwAR0jA-AAx_XojY5Yngsp4n7eU8UrPgEU8A66AiSEXanInMIleC49saU_MWE

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Plaintiffs angered by gov’t appeal in Hiroshima ‘black rain’ suit

jpllHead of the plaintiffs’ group, Masaaki Takano, right, and attorney Masayasu Takemori hold a press conference after the Hiroshima Municipal Government and the Hiroshima Prefectural Government appealed the Hiroshima District Court’s A-bomb health care aid ruling, in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward, on Aug. 12, 2020.

 

August 13, 2020

HIROSHIMA — Two weeks after a groundbreaking ruling in Japan to award government health care benefits to people exposed to radioactive “black rain” outside of the currently designated zone, the central government appealed, prompting aging plaintiffs to accuse the government of “buying time” and “waiting for them to die.”

In the lawsuit, the Hiroshima District Court recognized that all 84 plaintiffs in their 70s to their 90s had been exposed to radioactive black rain that fell after the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima by the United States military, outside a zone currently recognized by the government. On Aug. 12, however, the government persuaded the Hiroshima Municipal Government and the Hiroshima Prefectural Government and went ahead with its appeal.

While the central government has said it will review the current zone with an eye to expanding it, nobody knows when and who will be given benefits. The plaintiffs, whose average age is over 82, had hoped that a resolution would be reached in this milestone year — 75 years since the bombing — and are angered and disappointed.

At 2 p.m. on the day the state appealed the ruling, the plaintiffs and their attorneys held a press conference at the Hiroshima Bar Association building in the city’s Naka Ward. Masaaki Takano, 82, head of the plaintiffs’ group, was about 20 kilometers northwest of the hypocenter in what is now Hiroshima’s Saeki Ward when he was exposed to black rain as a 7 year old. He leaned forward and said forcefully, “There is a limit to life. If a decision is put off, there will be that many deaths.” He added, “The state has dismissed our demands multiple times. It cannot be trusted.”

In 1976, the state designated the zone eligible for government health benefits based on a meteorological observatory survey conducted in the chaotic period immediately following the end of World War II that pointed to where there had been heavy rains. Two years later, residents who had been exposed to rain outside the designated zone argued that it was unreasonable for the government to draw a line through the same neighborhood, with one part falling within the zone and the other part not.

The residents who fell outside the line established a predecessor organization to the Hiroshima prefectural black rain hibakusha liaison council. In the 42 years since, they have gathered tens of thousands of signatures for petitions, but have been repeatedly dismissed by the central government. Even when the Hiroshima municipal and prefectural governments argued for a widening of the zone eligible for health benefits, saying that black rain had fallen in an area six times that recognized by the central government, the state refused to acknowledge it. As a last-ditch effort, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in 2015. After a trial that lasted four years and nine months, they came out victorious. But by then, 12 of the plaintiffs had died, missing out on the opportunity to rejoice together.

“The state’s thinking of not giving us the recognition of being hibakusha and appealing the ruling, while considering expanding the zone in which people can receive state health benefits, is contradictory,” said plaintiff Kazuko Morizono, 82, who was exposed to black rain in what is currently Hiroshima’s Asakita Ward, some 17 kilometers north of the bomb’s hypocenter. While dealing with hypothyroidism, which is suspected to come from the effects of radiation from the atomic bomb, and other disorders, she has been active in the movement to have the zone for state aid for black rain victims expanded for over 20 years. Referring to the death of a fellow plaintiff in May whom she had often seen at the trial hearings, Morizono said, “I don’t have much confidence in my health, and I feel impatient that we have to hurry. Now the trial’s going to last longer.”

Seventy-three-year-old Kuraso Hirotani, who was 3 when he was exposed to black rain in what is now the Hiroshima prefectural town of Akiota, around 20 kilometers northwest of the hypocenter, said with frustration, “We were all given false hope with the (district court) victory. Both the mayor and the governor were persuaded by the central government.” In the Peace Declaration that the mayor of Hiroshima reads on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima every year on Aug. 6, Mayor Kazumi Matsui has over the past 10 years, including his latest speech, called on the state to “expand the ‘black rain areas.'” Hirotani continued, “If you’re truly a politician in a place where an atomic bomb has been dropped, you would not appeal. If they had not appealed, I would’ve thanked them and bowed my head.”

Meanwhile, there are those who see some hope in the state’s promise to consider expanding the zone designated as having been exposed to black rain. Akie Ueda, 79, who was 4 years old when she was exposed to black rain about 9 kilometers west of the hypocenter in what is now Hiroshima’s Saeki Ward, is unwell and did not join the plaintiffs’ group in the lawsuit. She said, however, that “It made me a little bit happy that they cared.” These days she spends most of the day in bed. “We do not have time left,” she said. “I hope they come out with a good result as soon as possible.”

(Japanese original by Misa Koyama and Akari Terouchi, Hiroshima Bureau, and Shinji Kanto, Fukuyama Bureau)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200813/p2a/00m/0na/008000c?fbclid=IwAR3OzzyUt2aBp5daBOXWwpL4qg55ms8JrJcWlMA54E8LTy3656to13aW9eM

 

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan gov’t to appeal ruling on A-bomb “black rain” victims

August 13, 2020

The Japanese government has decided to appeal a recent court ruling awarding state health care benefits to people who were exposed after the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima to radioactive “black rain” outside a zone it currently recognizes, sources with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

Late last month, the Hiroshima District Court ruled in favor of 84 plaintiffs in their 70s to 90s, saying they should receive the same health benefits as provided to atomic bomb survivors who were in the zone where the state has recognized black rain fell.

The ruling was the first court decision regarding the boundary of the area affected by radioactive rain after the world’s first nuclear attack, and on the subsequent health problems among survivors.

hhlkjlA lawyer representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding that state health care benefits 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 holds up a sign after the Hiroshima District Court ruled in favor of the suit on July 29, 2020.

 

The city and prefectural governments of Hiroshima have long sought more assistance for atomic bomb survivors but accepted the government’s policy, the sources said.

The central government will appeal the district court’s ruling on Wednesday, according to the sources.

In the ruling, the court determined it was possible that black rain fell outside of the designated zone and reasonable to conclude the plaintiffs were affected by radiation if they were exposed to it.

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

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/08/93964dcd51c1-breaking-news-japan-govt-to-appeal-ruling-on-a-bomb-black-rain-victims.html?fbclid=IwAR1fd1UMJsPFtAusmP_VKUI0EA7_m5CyA3t5QueNipUr1VukChWcWm3TME4

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO and state slapped with new lawsuit over nuclear crisis

sdggfhf.jpgPlaintiffs in the lawsuit against TEPCO and the government gather in front of the Fukushima District Court in Fukushima on Nov 27.

November 28, 2018

FUKUSHIMA–Dismayed at a breakdown in talks for compensation, residents of the disaster-stricken town of Namie filed a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the central government for damages stemming from the nuclear accident here in March 2011.
The plaintiffs are seeking 1.3 billion yen ($11.4 million) in financial redress.
The entire town was evacuated in the aftermath of a triple core meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
The lawsuit was filed at the Fukushima District Court on Nov. 27 after five years of negotiations between the town and TEPCO collapsed in April over the utility’s refusal to meet demands for more compensation.
According to court papers, 109 plaintiffs of 49 households are seeking 12.1 million yen in individual compensation.
They stated that the nuclear accident destroyed their community and forced them to live as evacuees for a prolonged period.
TEPCO, under guidelines established by the central government, has been paying 100,000 yen a month to each resident forced to evacuate.
However, town officials argued that the figure was painfully low and should be increased to compensate for psychological suffering caused by the disaster.
In May 2013, the Namie municipal authorities, acting on behalf of residents, asked the nuclear damage claim dispute resolution center, an organization established by the central government in response to the Fukushima disaster, to mediate in the dispute.
About 15,000 residents, more than 70 percent of the town’s population, signed a petition for the mediation in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process at the center.
In March of 2014, an ADR proposal called for the monthly compensation to be uniformly increased by 50,000 yen.
The town accepted the offer but TEPCO rejected it, citing potential unfairness to others who had been compensated. In April, the center discontinued the reconciliation process.
Pointing out that TEPCO had reneged on its promise to “respect ADR reconciliation proposals,” the plaintiffs argued that the utility should pay for betraying the trust of residents.
An additional 2,000 or so townsfolk are planning to join the lawsuit.
In a statement, TEPCO said, “We will listen to the plaintiffs’ requests and complaints in detail and respond sincerely.”
Not only were the lives of residents turned upside down by the nuclear disaster, but more than 180 perished in the tsunami that engulfed the town.
Although the evacuation order was lifted for some parts of the town at the end of March 2017, entry to most of the area remains prohibited.
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201811280053.html?fbclid=IwAR1O0aNAvKOkAVVRm2UH44C6RT88xLhOntskaKyVvL3VSZmDlYSd7SMC1Vs

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 2 Comments

Cancer patient compensated for Fukushima work to sue TEPCO

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Damage from an explosion remains at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 4 reactor building in March 2013.

A 42-year-old man diagnosed with leukemia after working at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant plans to sue Tokyo Electric Power Co., saying the utility failed to take adequate precautions against radiation exposure.

He will also sue Kyushu Electric Power Co., operator of the Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture where he had also worked, in the lawsuit expected to be filed at the Tokyo District Court on Nov. 22.

The man, who is from Kita-Kyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture, will demand about 59 million yen ($541,000) in total compensation from the two utilities.

TEPCO and Kyushu Electric, as the managers of the facilities, are responsible for the health of workers there, but they failed to take adequate measures to protect them from radiation exposure,” said one of the lawyers representing him.

The man was forced to undergo unnecessary radiation exposure because of the utilities’ slipshod on-site radiation management, and as a result had to face danger to his life and fear of death,” the lawyer said.

The lawyers group said the man has a strong case, citing a ruling by labor authorities in October 2015 that recognized a correlation between his leukemia and his work in response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

It was the first time cancer was ruled work-related among people who developed the disease after working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The planned lawsuit will be the first legal action against TEPCO brought by an individual whose work-related compensation claim has already been granted.

Between October 2011 and December 2013, the man worked at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to set up a cover on the damaged No. 4 reactor building and perform other tasks.

The man also did regular maintenance jobs at the Genkai plant.

His accumulative radiation exposure at the two plants came to about 20 millisieverts.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611180052.html

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November 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment