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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 June 6 - 12  > Give relief to all Hibakusha affected by ‘black rain’
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2012 June 6 - 12 [ANTI-N-ARMS]
editorial 

Give relief to all Hibakusha affected by ‘black rain’

June 10, 2011
Akahata editorial

The Health Ministry’s committee in an interim report has concluded that there is no need to expand the area designated by the government as having been affected by radiation-contaminated “black rain” following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Ignoring local governments’ assertion that the radiation fallout affected a much wider area, the committee plans to finalize the report in early July.

Those who were exposed to the “black rain” within the designated area are authorized to receive medical assistance from the government. By recognizing only a very limited area to have been contaminated by the radiation fallout, the government has left many Hibakusha without the medical support they are entitled to have. It must expand the recognized area and give relief to all Hibakusha.

Calling residents liars

Launched in December last year, the ministry’s committee examined research conducted by the Hiroshima prefectural and city governments in 2008 on about 30,000 Hibakusha’s health conditions. Based on their testimonies that they had been exposed to the radiation fallout outside the officially-designated area, the research suggested that the area where the “black rain” had fallen could be six times larger than the one designated by the government.

The committee’s latest report ignored the revelation of the actual radiation damage and the victims’ urgent call for expansion of the designated area.

The report stated that neither radiation fallout nor internal/external exposure to radiation could be found outside the designated area so that “additional research has little significance.” It thus has no intention to provide relief to people who have been suffering from severe health conditions.

While many residents have been maintaining that they had been exposed to the “black rain” outside the designated area as well, the ministry’s committee has treated their argument as mistaken memory, saying, “It happened more than 60 years ago.” The government deserves to be condemned for rejecting the residents’ request by calling them “incompetent liars”.

Further evidence concerning exposure to radiation has recently been produced. Surveys conducted by Hiroshima University and Kanazawa University show that high levels of cesium from the A-bombing were detected in areas far from the designated area. In addition, data on 13,000 victims were discovered last year which the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had collected in 1950. The government must expand the designated area, accepting the residents’ claims and the facts that have come to light.

The authorities have refused Hibakusha’s requests to widen the designated area claiming that their argument is “scientifically groundless”. It is unforgivable for the national government to disregard the report submitted by local governments without conducting a survey of A-bomb survivors, which should have been carried out by the central government in the first place.

Responsibility to acknowledge all victims

To abandon the A-bomb victims by unfairly narrowing the “black rain area” is no longer accepted. Two years ago, replying to a question from Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Nihi Sohei, then Welfare Minister Nagatsuma Akira said that if a new report on A-bomb victims is submitted by municipalities, they will take it “seriously”. The Noda Cabinet should fulfill the promise made by the welfare minister in the Diet.

The residents exposed to the “black rain” are aging. The government’s most urgent task is to expand the designated area to the entire area where the “black rain” had fallen and relieve all Hibakusha of their pain and suffering.
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