Hiroshima City and Hiroshima Prefecture call for expansion of black rain area

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

Hiroshima Prefecture, along with three cities and five towns in the area, including the City of Hiroshima, have submitted a formal request to the Japanese government which calls for the "heavy rain area" of the black rain (Health Examination Special Designated Area) to be expanded. The request will be conveyed to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare through the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The black rain fell in the aftermath of the atomic blast in Hiroshima. This is the first time that a request regarding the black rain has been made to the government since the Democratic Party of Japan took power.

A group of four, including Tadatoshi Akiba, the mayor of Hiroshima, and Masahiro Sasaki, director of the Health and Welfare Affairs Bureau for the Hiroshima Prefectural Government, met with six lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan, Hiroshima at a downtown hotel. Mayor Akiba handed the formal request for expanding the designated area to nearly six times the size of the current area to Mitsuo Mitani, the local DPJ representative, and said, "Residents are growing older and we ask for the earliest possible resolution of this matter."

Along with the request, results of a survey conducted by the City of Hiroshima, with cooperation from Hiroshima Prefecture, were also submitted. The survey concluded that the black rain also fell outside the currently defined areas and that the people exposed to black rain outside the designated heavy rain area suffer from the same degree of mental and physical disorders as the A-bomb survivors. Reported, too, were findings from the latest research, including the detection of radioactive materials derived from the atomic bomb from the soil under the floors of houses located outside the designated area.

Though Mr. Mitani sympathized with the request, he said after the meeting that "It will be difficult to meet the request due to several factors, including financial resources."

(Originally published on July 13, 2010)