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Nagoya High Court overturns lower court ruling on medical claim by Nagasaki hibakusha siblings

Kyodo

The Nagoya High Court ruled Wednesday that two women who were exposed to the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki should be recognized as sufferers of radiation diseases, overturning a lower court decision that had ruled otherwise.

The high court said the siblings — Hatsue Yamada, 85, and Tsutae Takai, 82 — both required medical treatment when they sought state recognition, years after one of them had undergone cancer surgery and the other was diagnosed with a thyroid gland disorder.

Atomic bomb survivors are entitled to various medical benefits. They can receive a monthly special medical care allowance of around ¥140,000 ($1,300) if their illness is recognized by the state as caused by radiation from the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and still requires treatment. Cancer is among the conditions recognized.

The two women had filed a lawsuit seeking to nullify the government’s 2011 rejection of their bid to be certified as sufferers of atomic bomb illnesses. The focal point of the trial was how the court would evaluate the conditions of the plaintiffs at the time when they filed for state recognition, between 2009 and 2010.

The Nagoya District Court had dismissed their claims in September 2016, saying that the women faced a low probability that their medical conditions would deteriorate or suffer a relapse as it had been a long time since their last surgical procedures.

At Wednesday’s high court ruling, however, presiding Judge Masayuki Fujiyama said, “The siblings were at risk of suffering relapses and complications when they filed for the certification, and long-term follow-up examinations were essential.”

Yamada is a resident of the city of Nagasaki and Takai lives in Nagoya.

The two were exposed to radiation at their home which was about 5.4 kilometers away from the Nagasaki atomic bomb hypocenter. Yamada applied for state recognition nine years after she underwent breast cancer surgery, and Takai did so 16 years after she was diagnosed with chronic thyroiditis.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said it will decide its next course of action after checking the details of the high court ruling and discussing the matter with other government offices.