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Japan court grants recognition to atomic bomb victims

[JURIST] The Tokyo High Court [official website, in Japanese] granted an appeal Thursday to consider 30 people for official recognition as atomic bomb victims, ruling that 9 of the plaintiffs who were previously denied should receive the status. Officials said that the government will consider revising [AP report] the way it determines which atomic bomb survivors are to receive free medical care pursuant to the court order. Although the court rejected the plaintiffs' requests for damages of 3 million yen each, the ruling would provide monthly allowances, free medical care for ailments related to atomic bomb radiation, and funeral costs. Reasoning that the current standards for determining victim status may underestimate the effects of radiation, the court ruled that afflictions such as chronic pain from shrapnel, cirrhosis hepatitis and decreased thyroid activity should be recognizable ailments [Mainichi Daily News report]. The court rejected the claims of one of the 30 plaintiffs on the grounds that the ailments suffered were too attenuated from radiation exposure. High court Judge Tatsuki Inada criticized the government's criteria for being inflexible.

US atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945 killed approximately 210,000 people and left many survivors with various radiation-related ailments. In 2006, the Hiroshima District Court ruled [JURIST report] that 41 survivors of the atomic bombings were incorrectly denied benefits as sufferers of radiation sickness although, like the recent plaintiffs, the victims were denied damages. In 2005, a Japanese high court held [JURIST report] that a survivor of the atomic bombings living abroad was entitled to the same benefits as survivors living in Japan without having to return to the country to file claims.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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