Government accepts court ruling in favor of Hibakusha

The health ministry on April 11 announced that it will not appeal to the Supreme Court against a high court ruling ordering the government to recognize the recently deceased atomic-bomb survivor (Hibakusha) as an A-bomb disease sufferer.

On March 29, the Tokyo High Court ruled in favor of Azuma Kazuo who was demanding that the government recognize his hepatitis-C as caused by the A-bombing.

Azuma was exposed to radiation at a distance of 1.3 km from the hypocenter in Nagasaki on August 9 in 1945, and his illness was diagnosed as hepatic function disorder around 1981. He brought the case to court in 1999 after the health ministry rejected his application for his recognition as having an A-bomb related disease. He died from hepatic cancer in January at the age of 76.

On the night of April 11, an assembly was held by Hibakusha and Azuma's supporters who held demonstrations in front of the health ministry everyday since the high court decision calling on the government not to appeal to a higher court.

Azuma's wife Asako said, "My husband must be pleased with the result. By this legal struggle, he wanted to have the government improve its Hibakusha policy."

Lawyer Yasuhara Yukihiko said, "For us, the victory of Azuma's lawsuit does not mark an end but the beginning. Building on this victorious lawsuit, we will continue to urge the government to reform its system of certification of Hibakusha with A-bomb related diseases." (end)

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