NAGASAKI (Kyodo) The Nagasaki District Court handed down a mixed ruling Tuesday to six unrecognized atomic-bombing survivors suing the government, awarding official recognition as hibakusha to only two of them.
While nullifying the government’s earlier rejections of recognizing the two as hibakusha, however, the court dismissed their financial claims of ¥3 million each. The remaining four plaintiffs were also denied any financial compensation.
The Nagasaki lawsuit originally involved eight more plaintiffs, but they have already been recognized as hibakusha since the government eased its recognition criteria in 2008. They had also demanded ¥3 million each in financial damages, but the court Tuesday rejected their claims as well.
Official recognition as hibakusha opens the way for survivors to receive various medical services and financial benefits, including subsidies for funeral costs.
The ages of the 14 plaintiffs range from 65 to 83, with three of them already deceased and represented by their relatives.
In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Keiji Suda said the two survivors were recognized because the degree of their physical suffering — one with a brain tumor, the other with spinal deformities — well exceeds the government’s criteria.
“There is a possibility that the amounts of radiation the two were exposed to were underestimated” by health authorities, Suda said. “It is illegal for the government not to recognize that their sufferings come from radiation.”
Regarding the other four plaintiffs, however, the judge denied any scientific link between the 1945 bombing of the city and their physical problems.
Given the mixed ruling, lawyers for the plaintiffs said they may appeal.
At a news conference later in the day, plaintiffs and their supporters expressed disappointment and anger.
“All we need is government recognition, not money,” said Susumu Kawahara, 65, the youngest plaintiff in the Nagasaki suit.
Reiko Suzuki, 78, was also angry. “I don’t trust the courts anymore,” she said.
Lawyer Naotatsu Nakamura blasted the court for its “failure to grasp the reality of the atomic bombing.”
Book on survivors KYODO Publishing house Asunaro Shobo on Tuesday released a Japanese translation of a book by an American journalist who interviewed nine “double hibakusha,” people who survived the 1945 atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The English version, titled “Nine Who Survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Personal Experiences of Nine Men Who Lived Through the Atomic Bombings,” was published in the United States in 1957 by Robert Trumbull, a former Tokyo bureau chief of The New York Times, who died at age 80 in 1992.
The 168-page Japanese version is titled “Kinoko-Gumo ni Owarete — Niju Hibakusha no Shogen” (“Driven by Atomic Clouds: Testimonies by Nine Atomic Bomb Sufferers”). It sells for ¥1,365.
Trumbull spent about two years interviewing the nine double hibakusha.
Among them were Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a shipbuilding engineer at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., and Takejiro Nishioka, who served as Nagasaki governor after World War II. Nishioka died in 1958 at age 67 while Yamaguchi, who was known as the first officially recognized sufferer of double radiation exposure, died last January at 93.
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