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2008年6月 3日 (火)


06/03/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, June 2(IHT/Asahi: June 3,2008)

A-bomb radiation illness


Another court ruling last week criticized the way the government has treated many people who have claimed to suffer from radiation-related illnesses resulting from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in the closing days of World War II.

The Osaka High Court on Friday upheld a lower court ruling recognizing that all nine plaintiffs in the case, survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings, suffer from health problems stemming from exposure to radiation.

The court voided the health minister's decision to turn down their applications for official recognition as sufferers of such illnesses. Friday's ruling followed a similar decision made in favor of plaintiffs two days earlier by the Sendai High Court, which was the first appeals court ruling in a series of group lawsuits by such unrecognized hibakusha.



uphold=支持する)(turn down=~を阻止する、却下する)

In April, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare eased its criteria for recognizing A-bomb radiation-related illnesses. Now, hibakusha who have one of five designated diseases, including cancer and leukemia, and fulfill certain conditions under which their exposure to radiation occurred are almost automatically recognized.



Notably, the Osaka High Court decision recognized all nine plaintiffs as sufferers of A-bomb diseases, including five plaintiffs who have none of the five designated diseases and thus do not meet the new criteria. We welcome the ruling because it will provide relief to a wider group of hibakusha.

The health ministry should accept the decision, accelerate the screening process and end its court battles with plaintiffs.



The old recognition formula relied on probability calculations to decide if applicants would develop radiation-related diseases. The calculations were made using estimates of the amount of radiation they received based on how far they were from ground zero at the time of the bombing.


Only 1 percent of about 250,000 hibakusha were recognized as patients of radiation-related diseases through this procedure. The old criteria was harshly criticized by the courts, resulting in six consecutive district court rulings against the state.


Last summer, then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to that criticism by promising to review the government's approach to recognition. The new criteria resulted.


The new procedure makes decisions on applicants with none of the five diseases by assessing their individual circumstances, through a "comprehensive judgment."


Since the new method was adopted in April, nearly 300 more people have been recognized as having A-bomb radiation illnesses, more than double the total for last fiscal year. But all 300 have one of the five designated diseases. So far, no one not suffering one of the five diseases has been recognized through a "comprehensive judgment."



However, in its ruling, the Osaka High Court said decisions on such cases should be made by considering all relevant factors pertaining to the individual, including the way in which the person was exposed to radiation, how the disease developed and the individual's current health. The court acknowledged the plaintiffs who have none of the designated five illnesses but have developed anemia, cataracts or other problems also suffer from A-bomb radiation effects.



The ruling clearly urged the government to widen its screening to recognize all hibakusha who may suffer from radiation-related illness. The health ministry, which has been very strict in its recognition criteria, should take the court decision seriously.


The ministry is likely reluctant to add to government costs by providing special health care benefits to more recognized sufferers.


But the average age of hibakusha is over 74. The number of plaintiffs who are dying unrecognized is growing. Time is short.


Former Prime Minister Abe paved the way for the revision of the recognition criteria. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda should take the next step as quickly as possible by deciding not to appeal the ruling and providing relief to unrecognized patients.


--The Asahi Shimbun, June 2(IHT/Asahi: June 3,2008)

朝日新聞6月02日号 (英語版 2008年6月03日発行)


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