Hiroshima, July 14 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese high court on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling recognizing as hibakusha survivors 84 residents of Hiroshima Prefecture who claim to have been exposed to radioactive “black rain” that fell soon after the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing.
Hiroshima High Court presiding judge Kazuto Nishii upheld the district court ruling ordering the Hiroshima prefectural and city governments to issue hibakusha certificates to the residents.
The residents had claimed they suffered health damage from their exposure to the black rain after the U.S. atomic bombing of the western Japan city on Aug. 6, 1945.
At the time of the bombing, the plaintiffs were living outside a state-designated area subject to black-rain relief. The high court ruling is expected to put pressure on the government to review the area.
Designated under the hibakusha assistance law, the area is located northwest of the epicenter of the bombing. It measures some 19 kilometers in length and some 11 kilometers in width.
Residents of the area can get full medical checkups for free. If they are found to have cancer or other illness, they are given hibakusha certificates. Holders of such certificates are eligible to receive medical treatment for free.
Nishii said the black rain may have contained radioactive fallout. There is a possibility that the residents suffered internal exposure by drinking water or eating vegetables contaminated with radioactive particles, he said.
The judge said the black rain is believed to have fallen in an area beyond the state-designated boundaries. He concluded that it is possible that the residents suffered health damage from radiation from the atomic bomb.
In July last year, Hiroshima District Court recognized the residents as hibakusha survivors, saying the black rain fell in a broader area than the state had designated.
Since November, the health ministry has been examining where the black rain fell, including the possibility of expanding the area eligible for relief.