Applications for A-bomb disease certification increase more than fourfold between January and June

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

On July 3, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare released data on the applications filed to obtain A-bomb disease certifications and certifications issued between January and June 2014. These are the first figures released since new criteria were introduced at the end of 2013. For four diseases other than cancer, including myocardial infarction, which have been the focus of discussions, 406 applications were submitted. Compared to the April-December period of 2013, the number of applications made on an average month was more than four times greater. Of those already examined, slightly less than 80 percent of the applicants have gotten certifications, resulting in a higher certification rate.

Of the 134 applications, the largest number was made for myocardial infarction, followed by 124 for radiation-induced cataracts, 89 for hypothyroidism, and 59 for chronic hepatitis and hepatic cirrhosis. The monthly average was 67.6 applications, while the monthly average between April and December 2013 was 15.0.

Sixty-two cases have been examined according to the new criteria, of which 49 were approved and 13 were rejected. The 49 applicants include those who entered an area near the hypocenter in the aftermath of the atomic bombing. Between April and December 2014, 16 were certified and 88 rejected. Although a smaller number of applications have been examined under the new criteria compared to that of last year, more certifications have been issued.

The Health Ministry had predicted the number of certifications to grow tenfold following the revision of the criteria. The ministry’s A-bomb Survivors Support Office expects that the number of both applications and certifications will increase as people come to note that certifications are issued according to the new criteria.

With regard to such diseases as myocardial infarction, the abstract term “if the diseases are radiation-induced” has been eliminated. Also, those who are suffering from diseases other than cancer had not been certified as having A-bomb diseases if they entered the city after the bombing. But under the new criteria, they can be certified if they were within about 1 kilometer of the hypocenter by the day after the bombing.

At the same time, people who are not covered by the new criteria have been winning lawsuits seeking to be certified as suffering from A-bomb diseases at district courts around the country. Some A-bomb survivors’ organizations have claimed that there is still a wide gap between approval by the government and judicial rulings.

(Originally published on July 4, 2014)