Survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki asked prefectural governments Friday to recognize them as sufferers of radiation sickness.
About 60 survivors are expected to file similar applications in 15 prefectures, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the end of the day, according to sources.
The mass application follows the July 9 application by 76 survivors seeking similar recognition of how their health had been affected by their exposure to radiation 57 years ago.
The spate of applications reflects the efforts of the Japan Confederation of A-Bomb and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations to encourage the government to improve the recognition system, which the survivors’ group says is “too stringent.”
They say the current certification method is too limited because it relies mostly on the statistical relationship between radiation and sickness based on the amount of radiation estimated from the distance from Ground Zero.
Many of the survivors now seeking recognition have previously applied on an individual basis and had their bids rejected, the group said.
If the applications are turned down, more than 100 survivors, including the latest applicants, will jointly file suits to force the prefectural governments to recognize their physical state, it added.
“(The survivors) filed the applications today to make the government recognize that their 57 years of suffering have resulted from the bombings,” the group said in a statement.
“This is a historical movement aimed not just at drastically altering the way public administration has dealt with atomic-bomb survivors but at changing Japan’s tolerance of nuclear weapons in the hopes of eradicating nuclear arms,” it continued.
The applicants will be eligible for special medical benefits worth 139,600 yen per month if the local governments recognize that their diseases were caused by exposure to radiation from the atomic bombings. of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later.
As of the end of March, 285,620 people possessed atomic-bomb survivor booklets — a certificate formally recognizing their exposure to radiation after the bombings — according to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry statistics.
Of those, 2,169 people, or about 0.76 percent, are recognized as suffering from radiation sickness.
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