Crime & Justice

Japanese govt to appeal ruling recognizing black rain victims as survivors

Tokyo, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- The Japanese government announced on Wednesday its decision to appeal a court ruling that on July 29 recognized the victims of the radioactive “black rain” that fell after the Hiroshima attack as atomic bomb survivors.

If upheld by the court after the appeal, the ruling would allow these persons to be recognized as “hibakusha” or victims of the atomic bombings that the city suffered 75 years ago and be eligible to get state assistance.

The decision to appeal the judgement was taken by both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government and the authorities of the Hiroshima prefecture and municipality, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters on Wednesday.

The ruling in favor of the 84 plaintiffs was issued by a Hiroshima district court and backed their right to be recognized as “hibakusha” to benefit from the state system that guarantees free medical expenses to those who developed diseases and disabilities due to exposure to the radiation.

However, Kato stated that the court’s decision was not based on sufficient scientific knowledge and called for a review of the area where the “black rain” fell using the latest scientific technology.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui also confirmed the decision to appeal, which he said had been taken at the request of the central government, according to public broadcaster NHK.

“Black rain” comprises the radioactive fallout of the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, mixed with vapor in the atmosphere which ended up falling as large, greasy drops.

During the trial, it was questioned whether the plaintiffs could be recognized as survivors of the bombing as they were living outside the special area designated by the government (about 19 kilometers long and 11 kilometers wide to the northwest of the hypocenter of the explosion) and whether they had been exposed to a degree that was harmful to their health.

Those who were not 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, in principle, for the free medical expenses.

The plaintiffs, aged between 75 and 96 years, claimed to have been exposed to “black rain” and having ingested contaminated water and crops, developing diseases such as cancer and cataract.

Between 2015 and 2018 they progressively applied for the “hibakusha” certificate but were denied it.

Since 2015, they had been filing a series of successive lawsuits, but the July 29 ruling was the first to recognize victims of “black rain” as “hibakusha” survivors. EFE-EPA


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