Conflicts & War

High court supports recognizing ‘black rain’ victims as ‘hibakusha’

Tokyo, Jul 14 (EFE).- A Japanese high court ratified a sentence Wednesday that recognizes 84 victims of the radioactive “black rain” that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima as “hibakusha” (survivors of the atomic bomb), giving them access to state aid.

The Hiroshima High Court decision confirmed the lower court ruling in the same city, which in July 2020 recognized the plaintiffs, aged 76-97, as “hibakusha,” which would allow those who were affected by the radiation exposure to access state medical facilities.

Hiroshima authorities and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry appealed the first sentence a few days before commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United States’ attack on the western Japanese city.

The precipitation that followed the explosion of the nuclear bomb dropped on Aug. 6, 1945 and scattered radioactive elements is known as “black rain.”

The high court supported the plaintiffs, saying they should receive the same benefits as those provided for the “hibakusha” survivors if they were in areas where the state itself recognized that “black rain” fell.

“There is no factor to reverse the decision of the court of first instance. I hope for a victory,” said Masaaki Takano, spokesman for the plaintiffs, shortly before Wednesday’s hearing, in statements collected by the local Kyodo news agency.

The trial questioned whether plaintiffs could be recognized as survivors of the bombing by living outside the designated “special area” (about 19 kilometers long and 11 kilometers wide northwest of the hypocenter) and if they had been exposed to a certain degree of harm.

Those in the area at the time of the bombing can undergo a free medical examination and if they develop any of the 11 diseases or disabilities linked to radiation exposure can obtain a “hikabusha” certificate and opt to free medical expenses.

Plaintiffs said they were exposed to radioactivity that expanded outside the official perimeter and ingested contaminated water and crops that led them to develop diseases such as cancer or cataracts.

Between 2015 and 2018 they progressively requested the “hibakusha” certificate, but it was denied.

Since 2015 they had been presenting a series of successive lawsuits, but the July 2020 sentence was the first that recognized victims of the “black rain” as “hibakusha” survivors. EFE


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