Outline of final report on A-bomb disease certification is offered

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

On November 12, an outline of the final report on the A-bomb disease certification system, currently being reviewed by a commission formed by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, was made available. The final report, which will be released by the end of the year, stresses the need to detail distinct certification standards for each illness. Despite criticism by the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) regarding the draft presented by the commission in October, the content of the final report will be based on that earlier version. Hidankyo has been calling for the creation of a new allowance system for A-bomb survivors.

The outline of the final report indicates that the report will include an “introduction” and “conclusion.” The conclusion acknowledges that the members of the commission did not all share the same opinion, suggesting that there were conflicting views between those who wished to base changes on the current system and those from Hidankyo who have sought an outright overhaul.

In the draft, the panel presents several views as majority opinions. One opinion contends that it would be difficult to establish general criteria for A-bomb diseases based on the rulings involving the class action lawsuits over A-bomb disease certification, which the Japanese government has lost in succession. Another such opinion states that it would not be appropriate to treat cancer and other diseases in the same manner.

The panel then goes on to conclude that the certification process would be improved by classifying and clarifying the criteria more distinctly, which would narrow the gap between the judicial decisions and the government’s A-bomb disease certification.

Meanwhile, the idea of instituting a system to provide allowances to all A-bomb survivors, a proposal made by the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations, has remained in the draft. The organization has been seeking this solution with the argument that it is impossible to verify the accuracy of radiation doses suffered by A-bomb survivors partly because of residual radiation. In response, the draft also states that many have pointed out that recognizing all A-bomb survivors as sufferers of A-bomb diseases, regardless of the circumstances in which they were exposed to the atomic bombing, would be inappropriate.

Hidankyo has criticized the commission’s approach, arguing that “breaking down the certification standards even further will make the current system worse, not better.”

A draft of the final report will be presented at the next meeting of the review commission on November 14. Once the final report is submitted, by the end of the year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will determine what changes will be made to the certification system.

(Originally published on November 13, 2013)