HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) The Hiroshima District Court on Wednesday rescinded the municipal government’s decision not to designate seven plaintiffs as A-bomb survivors.
The seven hibakusha asked the city to issue A-bomb survivors’ health passbooks between 1996 and 2004, claiming they were exposed to radiation when they were engaged in rescue work in and around Hiroshima shortly after the atomic bombing.
The health passbooks are issued not only to those who were directly exposed to the A-bomb but also to those who were exposed to radiation after the bombing.
The municipal government had rejected their request on grounds that it could not confirm their activities.
The point of contention was the Hiroshima Municipal Government’s internal criteria for designating rescuers as hibakusha, which stipulate that such people are eligible only if they rescued more than 10 injured people or handled more than 10 bodies a day.
“Without examining the rationale of the hibakusha criteria, the Hiroshima mayor continued to apply the rule for years,” presiding Judge Tomoyuki Nonoue said as he handed down the ruling.
The plaintiffs had claimed the city’s criteria are simply unreasonable and ignore the seriousness of indirect radiation on human health.
The court, however, rejected a claim for ¥2.2 million in damages for each of the plaintiffs.
Nevertheless, the plaintiffs welcomed the ruling.
“I’m happy all seven were victorious,” said Kaoru Sumisaka, 68, who was exposed to radiation in August 1945.
Sumisaka was engaged in rescue work with his mother for about 20 days in an area 18 km north of the city center.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, referring to the ruling, told a press conference, “It is necessary for the government to take measures based on the positions of the A-bomb victims.”
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