Hibakusha ruling won’t be appealed

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday the government will not appeal a district court ruling last week that recognized eight A-bomb victims eligible for public assistance even though the state had rejected their applications for such status.

The government’s abandonment of the court battle is expected to pave the way for a further easing of criteria, designated by the state, for recognizing sufferers of atomic bomb-related diseases who are entitled to special medical benefits.

Abe said after attending a ceremony in Nagasaki to mark the 68th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing that the government will “comprehensively examine each (victim’s) case from various viewpoints” to decide whether to officially recognize A-bomb survivors as recipients of special assistance.

The Osaka District Court ruled Aug. 2 that the state “illegally” rejected applications for special monthly medical benefits by the eight, saying they suffer from diseases such as heart infarction and underactive thyroid function induced by their exposure to radiation and therefore need medical treatment.

The court obliged the state to recognize the plaintiffs as sufferers of A-bomb-related diseases.

More than 100 people across the country have sued the state following the government’s decision not to officially recognize them as sufferers of atomic bomb-related illnesses under the criteria set in 2008, according to lawyers of the plaintiffs.

The 2008 criteria, revised for the first time since 2001, expanded the scope of those officially recognized as A-bomb disease sufferers by setting out conditions for “proactive recognition” such as having suffered radiation exposure within a radius of 3.5 km of ground zero in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

However, nearly half of the applications since 2008 were rejected by the government, which said radiation exposure was not the cause of their symptoms.