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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)


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.

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.

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

Cancer patient compensated for Fukushima work to sue TEPCO


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.


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