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Court denies medical aid to Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors’ children

A Japanese court has rejected a damages suit filed by a group of children of the Nagasaki atomic bombing survivors seeking eligibility for government support for medical costs, saying hereditary radiation impact has not been proven.

A group of 28 people whose parents were exposed to radiation in the August 9, 1945, US atomic bombing filed a lawsuit in 2017, demanding the government include them as part of its medical support available to survivors.

Two of the plaintiffs, who were cancer patients, died during the trial.

The Nagasaki District Court said on Monday that a possible hereditary radiation effect could not be denied, but there is no established scientific consensus and that the government’s exclusion of the plaintiffs from medical support is not unconstitutional.

The court, however, said it is up to the government to decide whether to expand financial support to include second-generation survivors.

The government has maintained that there is no scientific evidence showing hereditary impact of parents’ radiation exposure on their children.

The plaintiffs, aged 50s to 70s, sought $730 each from the government in damages, saying their exclusion violated constitutional equality. A similar lawsuit is pending at the Hiroshima district court, where a ruling is expected early next year.

Hiroshima marks 77th anniversary of world’s first atomic bombing

Generations-long causes

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. It dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000. Japan surrendered on August 15, ending World War II and its nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.

Many survivors of the bombings have lasting injuries and illnesses resulting from the explosions and radiation exposure and have faced discrimination in Japan.

Their children, known as “hibaku nisei” or second-generation survivors of the atomic bombing, say they have constantly worried about possible hereditary effects of radiation from their parents’ exposures, and many have developed various forms of cancer and other health problems. They estimate their numbers at 300,000 to 500,000.

Only the survivors and those who had prenatal exposures and were certified can receive government medical support for their radiation illnesses and cancer checkups.

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