KOCHI – Worker compensation claims by former fishermen and others over health damage from exposure to radiation caused by U.S. hydrogen bomb tests on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in 1954 have been rejected, it was learned Tuesday.
The Japan Health Insurance Association has decided not to approve the claims sought by 11 applicants — seven former fishing boat crew members from Kochi and Miyagi prefectures, and four bereaved family members.
A review is under way on applications that were submitted later by two other former fishing boat crew members from Kochi.
At the time of the hydrogen bomb tests, the former crew members were working in surrounding waters. They later developed diseases such as cancer and leukemia.
In relation to the Bikini Atoll radiation, worker compensation claims have so far been approved only for former crew members of the Fukuryu Maru No. 5 fishing vessel from Shizuoka Prefecture. One of its members died of effects of acute radiation damage.
The rejection came to light after an association group of experts, which looked into possible relations between health damage and radiation, released a report on Monday saying that it could not be confirmed that the level of radiation the former fishermen suffered was severe enough to affect their health.
Masatoshi Yamashita, secretary-general of the Pacific Nuclear Disaster Assistance Center, which has been supporting former fishermen and others, said he feels “dumbfounded rather than regretful.”
Setsuko Shimomoto, 67, whose father died of bile duct cancer, questioned the association’s decision. Shimomoto said that the rejection was regrettable because she made the application to let people know about the dangers of radiation.