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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 December 11 - 17  > High court shuts its ears to ex-fishermen affected by US H-bomb tests
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2019 December 11 - 17 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

High court shuts its ears to ex-fishermen affected by US H-bomb tests

December 13, 2019

The Takamatsu High Court on December 12 issued a ruling upholding the lower court decision to reject demands for state compensation from 45 plaintiffs, including ex-crewmembers of Japanese tuna fishing boats exposed to the U.S. hydrogen bomb tests 65 years ago at Bikini Atoll.

The 45 plaintiffs in their court battle claim that the national government hid information and materials regarding the adverse impacts from the 1954 U.S. nuclear test at Bikini Atoll and neglected to take necessary measures to provide aid and relief to affected fishermen, and demanded a court order for state compensation.

After the ruling, the plaintiffs and their lawyers and supporters held a rally in Takamatsu City in Kagawa Prefecture.

Speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs’ legal team, lawyer Kajihara Morimitsu criticized the appeals court for closing its eyes to the plaintiff-side group’s efforts to verify the fact that the state government had concealed critical information with the aim of evading its responsibility to provide relief to the former fishermen. He said, “The high court ruling jeopardizes judicial independence. The judiciary has waived its role as a protector of human rights.”

Masumoto Miho, the wife of plaintiffs’ group head Masumoto Kazuma, angrily said, “My husband would have condemned the judges for disrespecting the people.” Masumoto Kazuma, former crewmember of the fishing boat Hime Maru, died just before the high court ruling.

A bereaved child of an ex-crewmember of another fishing boat said, “Motivated by the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, I decided to join in the lawsuit. I was astounded at the high court decision and came to realize that Japan is a nation escaping from facing up to the negative health affects associated with exposure to nuclear radiation.”

Past related articles:
> Court dismisses demand for state compensation from ex-fishermen exposed to 1954 US hydrogen bomb test [July 21, 2018]
> Ex-fishermen affected by 1954 US H-bomb tests sue gov’t for relief [May 10, 2016]
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