Handing down a ruling in a lawsuit involving 30 plaintiffs who challenged the state’s refusal to recognize them as sufferers of illnesses caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Tokyo High Court on May 28 recognized 29 of them as sufferers.

After a March 2007 Tokyo District Court ruling, 20 of them had been recognized by the government as sufferers under the new April 2008 criteria designed to readily recognize people as sufferers of atomic bomb-related illnesses in accordance with a 2000 Supreme Court ruling. The high court ruling means that it recognized as sufferers nine of the 10 plaintiffs whose request for certification had been rejected by the government even under the eased criteria.

About 300 people nationwide filed lawsuits seeking certification at 17 district courts in and after 2003. The latest ruling marks the 18th consecutive ruling favorable to plaintiffs. The government should not appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court and instead work out a measure for wider certification of A-bomb radiation illnesses.

The April 2008 criteria recognize people as sufferers of atomic bomb-caused illnesses if they were exposed to radiation within a radius of 3.5 kilometers from ground zero at the time of the bombing and suffer from any of five types of diseases including cancer, leukemia and hyperparathyroidism. People who entered Hiroshima or Nagasaki after the bombings under certain conditions and developed those diseases are also certified.

Saying that the current screening rules are inappropriate since they tend to underestimate residual radiation and internal exposure dose, the high court certified people who were exposed to radiation at a point 5 km from ground zero at the time of the bombing or entered the cities five days after the bombings. The ruling also showed that certain diseases such as cirrhosis and hypothyroidism, which are outside the scope of the criteria, also should be regarded as having been caused by the atomic bombings.

Some 8,500 atomic bombing survivors are dying every year. The government should quickly take appropriate action.

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