NAGOYA – The Nagoya District Court on Wednesday ordered that two men who were exposed to the August 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima should be officially recognized as hibakusha, overturning the government’s rejection of their certification bid despite standards eased in recent years.
The court, however, dismissed similar claims made by two women in the same case who were present during the nuclear attack on Nagasaki, while acknowledging a causal relationship between the diseases suffered by all four plaintiffs and their exposure to radiation.
Presiding Judge Yoshitaka Ichihara said in the ruling that while the men needed surgery or repeated hospital visits for medical treatment when they applied for certification, the women faced a lower probability of needing such help as their conditions had not deteriorated in the extended time since last undergoing surgical procedures.
The four plaintiffs, aged from 80 to 91 and now living in Aichi Prefecture, have subsequently developed conditions such as cataracts and lung cancer.
The two women, sisters Tsutae Takai, 80, and Hatsue Yamada, 83, plan to appeal the ruling to a higher court.
Toshio Mori, 91, one of the plaintiffs who was officially recognized as hibakusha in Wednesday’s ruling, was stationed in Hiroshima as a soldier. After the bombing, he threw up food and blood. He later suffered from cataracts and sought government certification as a sufferer of radiation-related diseases.
In a statement, a team of lawyers representing the plaintiffs called the ruling “unfair” on the grounds that the court defined the scope of conditions requiring medical treatment “extremely narrowly.”
The government decided in 2008 to recognize cancer and cataract patients more proactively as sufferers of atomic bomb-related diseases if they cleared government-set criteria for recognition, such as their distance from the epicenter of the bombings and when they approached the epicenters after the bombings.
In 2013, the government decided to expand the criteria to include sufferers of diseases other than cancer.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in seven courts across the nation, and some courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs, according to the lawyers
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