Illnesses that appear owing to radiation of the atomic bombings and need actual medical care are called Atomic-Bomb illness. The Atomic-Bomb Survivors' Assistance Act provides Atomic-Bomb survivors, the Hibakusha, with special medical allowance that amounts to 142,170 yen, about 1,125 euros per month.
Hibakusha launched collective lawsuits in 2005, demanding Atomic-Bomb illness certification because their illnesses such as cancers, leukemia, heart disease, and cataract were caused by the atomic bombs.
The government repeated that radiation might impact on human bodies of only those who were exposed to primary radiation in limited areas within 2 kilometers from the hypocenter and there were no impacts on distant Hibakusha who were outside the area or those who entered Hiroshima City after the atomic bombing. Thus, the government underestimated the impacts of residual radiation.
We confronted the courts with the facts that proved the government’s argument contrary to the facts, then drastically countered and refuted it.
This struggle has made the courts find the facts in many judgments that not only direct exposure to primary radiation but also radioactive fallouts, exposure to residual radiation, and internal radiation, that is ingesting radioactive material into human bodies by breathing, drinking or eating, harmed genes with alpha rays that emit high energy.
The accumulation of constant victory judgments led to a political settlement that eased requisite for certification in 2008. Until the 21st December 2011 Osaka District Court Judgment, 279 out of 306 plaintiffs won their cases, and the lost 27 plaintiffs also received a certain amount of compensation. The myth that dose of primary radiation should be the only requisite for Atomic-Bomb illness certification was broken.
The danger of nuclear weapons and threat of radioactive materials have been proven again to people in Japan.
In 2009, the Hibakusha and then prime minister signed an agreement on which the government committed to take measures to avoid future lawsuits for certification. Then illnesses of many Hibakusha were certified as Atomic-Bomb illnesses and the allowances were paid to them.
Since around 2014, when certified Hibakusha had increased considerably, the minister in charge started to tighten the other requisite, necessity of medical care, and dismissed applications of the Hibakusha that should be certified normally.
120 of them filed new lawsuits. Most of the cases were settled for victory judgment or certification as Atomic-Bomb illness under the revised certification criteria.
This month, on June 3rd, a plaintiff won at the Osaka District Court. In four days, on June 22nd, a judgment for 11 plaintiffs will be handed down at Hiroshima High Court. The 16-year-long lawsuits and campaign to support the Hibakusha have made a great progress, and are coming to an end.Standing alongside the Hibakusha, we are willing to continue efforts to support them, which is one of the purposes of JALANA activities. Thank you for listening.