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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 July 18 - 24  > Court dismisses demand for state compensation from ex-fishermen exposed to 1954 US hydrogen bomb test
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2018 July 18 - 24 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Court dismisses demand for state compensation from ex-fishermen exposed to 1954 US hydrogen bomb test

July 21, 2018

The Kochi District Court on July 20 dismissed a demand for state compensation made by 45 plaintiffs, including former Japanese fishermen of tuna fishing boats exposed to the 1954 U.S. hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll.

The 45 plaintiffs in their court battle criticized the Japanese government for prioritizing the U.S. nuclear strategy. They also said that the government for 60 years has kept secret information regarding the impact of the U.S. hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll. The plaintiffs’ group insisted that what the government did constitutes a human rights violation and demanded 65 million yen in state compensation.

The district court in giving the reasons for dismissal explained that the plaintiffs failed to file a claim for damages before the 20-year statute of limitations expired. The court on the other hand noted the need for measures to relieve former fishermen affected by the 1954 U.S. nuclear test explosion at Bikini Atoll.

At a rally held after the ruling, the plaintiffs, angered by the court decision, expressed their determination to continue their fight to obtain compensation from the government.

One of the plaintiffs, 81-year-old Masumoto Kazumasa worked on a Japanese tuna fishing vessel named “Hime-maru” which was in operation in the waters near the U.S. hydrogen bomb test site in 1954. He said, “When the Japanese and U.S. governments in January 1955 made a political decision to downplay the Bikini incident, I thought that my government had no will to care about the affected fishermen. The government has concealed documents, which contain information about the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll and its aftermath, for 60 years.”

Another plaintiff, Wada Tadaaki, pointed out that Article 6 of the UN nuclear ban treaty calls for assistance and compensation for those negatively affected by the testing of nuclear weapons. Wada said, “In the context of the UN treaty, our struggle has international significance.”

Past related article:
> Ex-fishermen affected by 1954 US H-bomb tests sue gov’t for relief [May 10, 2016]
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