• Kyodo News


People who survived the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki proposed Wednesday that simpler criteria be used to more broadly recognize hibakusha as suffering from radiation-linked diseases, following a series of court rulings in their favor.

Under the criteria formulated by Nihon Hidankyo, survivors of the atomic bombings would be certified as radiation disease victims simply by developing certain diseases that could be linked to radiation, the group said at a press conference after concluding its two-day general meeting.

Under current government criteria, to be officially recognized as a radiation disease sufferer and collect the related benefits, the first diagnosis must be followed by further screening.

The group said the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry should draft an ordinance designating nine types of diseases, including cancer, arteriosclerotic diseases, chronic liver diseases and locomotor disorders caused by delayed treatment of radiation wounds, as required for recognition, it said.

Under the ministry’s current certification system, introduced in May 2001, recognition is decided chiefly by how much radiation one was exposed to. That is calculated according to an estimate of one’s distance from ground zero and the types of disease one has.

In a series of class-action lawsuits filed by ill hibakusha since 2003, five district courts have acknowledged flaws in the state’s criteria. But the government has appealed the rulings in each case, including the latest one, in March by Tokyo District Court.

The rulings have prompted the Liberal Democratic Party to set up a subcommittee on the matter in its Policy Research Council’s health, labor and welfare division. It might address the issue when it announces its policy platform for the House of Councilors election in July.

The group said it plans to lobby LDP lawmakers about the proposal and ask them to consider it when formulating policy on the matter.

Of the roughly 260,000 people certified as hibakusha as of March last year, only 2,280, or 0.9 percent, have been certified as suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to the atomic bombings.

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