The government will not appeal a Tokyo High Court ruling ordering it to certify 29 of 30 plaintiffs as suffering from illnesses caused by radiation from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, welfare minister Yoichi Masuzoe said Tuesday.
“The government will proceed with necessary procedures to certify the plaintiffs who were given the court ruling,” Masuzoe said.
However, he stopped short of promising to certify all other plaintiffs, saying, “The government will listen to opinions of the plaintiffs, consult with the chief Cabinet secretary and the final decision will be made by Prime Minister Taro Aso.”
A senior official suggested the government will review its criteria for acknowledging patients of atomic bomb-related diseases to expand relief to victims.
“We’d like to work out a certain outline by the anniversaries of the bombings in August,” the official said.
Certified victims are eligible for ¥137,000 a month in medical allowances.
The May 28 ruling marked the government’s 18th straight loss in both district and high courts in lawsuits over the certification of victims of atomic bomb-related diseases.
“The (current) screening rules are inappropriate in certifying atomic bomb-related diseases,” presiding Judge Tatsuki Inada said in handing down the ruling.
The court determined that plaintiffs with liver failure and underactive thyroid function — diseases that are excluded from the list of those the government certifies — should be treated as official victims.
An expert panel is to reach a conclusion later this month on whether to include these two diseases in the list for certification.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said the government will try to reach a conclusion on how to solve the long-standing issue as early as possible.
Later in the day, Masuzoe met with the plaintiffs’ representatives and lawyers at the Diet and informed them of the decision not to appeal the latest ruling.
Hidenori Yamamoto, 76, a representative of the plaintiffs, welcomed the decision.
“We would like to thank the minister, but we still have one more plaintiff who lost the suit,” Yamamoto said. “We will keep fighting to save all the plaintiffs.”
The Tokyo High Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim after citing difficulty in establishing a link between his illness and radiation exposure.
About 300 people across Japan filed lawsuits seeking certification at 17 district courts. Thirteen district courts and four high courts had ruled in favor of the plaintiffs before the May 28 high court ruling.
Lawsuit winner dies
NAGASAKI (Kyodo) Chong Nam Su, a South Korean who won a suit in Japan seeking recognition as an atomic bomb victim, died May 25 at a hospital in South Korea, her supporters said. She was 89.
The cause of death was not immediately known. She had been bed-ridden after she broke her hip, according to the supporters.
Chong filed the suit in February 2007, seeking reversal of the Nagasaki Prefectural Government’s refusal to grant her a health passbook and associated benefits for victims of the atomic bomb because she applied for them without visiting Japan as required at the time.
The Nagasaki District Court ruled last November that such a requirement is unnecessary and she should be granted the passbook and benefits.
The prefectural government appealed the ruling, but Chong was able to obtain the passbook under an amended Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Law that dropped the requirement.
Chong, who came to Japan in 1939, lived about 2.4 km from ground zero in Hiroshima when she was exposed to the atomic bomb blast on Aug. 6, 1945.
She returned to South Korea that fall.
Supporters of Chong in Nagasaki applied for the health passbook as her proxies in 2006.
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