Hibakusha-aid qualification criteria deemed too strict

Kyodo News

A Liberal Democratic Party subcommittee wants the government to scrap its criteria for certifying, for purposes of financial aid, atomic bomb survivors and consider a new standard so that more hibakusha suffering radiation exposure-related diseases can receive support, panel members said Thursday.

The subcommittee also wants full consideration made of the residual radiation of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings, and called on the state to withdraw its appeals against six district court rulings that recognized flaws in the current criteria once the criteria are reviewed.

The move comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Hiroshima on Aug. 5, prior to the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing, that the government will rethink its tight screening criteria, which bar many ill survivors from being certified as radiation casualties.

The government currently issues certifications on hibakusha assistance by calculating the amount of radiation exposure based on the survivors’ proximity to ground zero, along with such factors as age, sex and illnesses.

But critics say the criteria are too strict, given that of the roughly 250,000 people recognized as hibakusha, fewer than 1 percent have been certified as suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to the atomic bombings.

If their diseases, including cancer and leukemia, are certified as having been caused by atomic bomb radiation, they will be eligible for special allowances of about ¥137,000 per month.