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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

All victims of nukes unite!

February 20, 2016

Hibakusha: Hiroshima 'black rain' victim encouraged by plaintiff in Fukushima class action case

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160220/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

At the end of January, just after a spell of cold weather had swept across the Japanese archipelago, Seiji Takato checked a freshly printed newsletter he had been working on at his office in Hiroshima. He appeared satisfied. The newsletter contained a message from Ruiko Muto, the head of a group of plaintiffs seeking criminal prosecution of parties including Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the leak of radioactively contaminated water from the utility's crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean.

The 75-year-old former high school biology teacher and his acquaintances decided to publish the newsletter to show support for a group of 64 people who had filed a class action lawsuit against the Hiroshima prefectural and municipal governments. The 64 plaintiffs were demanding that those who were showered with "black rain" (rain mixed with fallout) in the wake of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, be recognized as A-bomb sufferers and be given handbooks that would enable them to receive health care benefits.

For the first issue of the newsletter, Takato, a black rain victim himself, included a piece by Muto.

"The case you have brought to the court is a very important lawsuit for Fukushima that deals with health damage caused by exposures to low doses of radiation. ... Let's join hands in a fight to protect all lives from nuclear threats," reads Muto's message.

Takato has paid attention to the government's designation of evacuation areas around the Fukushima plant and the lifting of evacuation orders after the nuclear disaster, and he felt similarities with the handling of black rain, as authorities drew lines between the zones where people would be recognized as hibakusha and other areas. The health damage caused by exposure to radiation cannot be determined with sharp lines like those on a map.

"I always think about Fukushima," Takato says. He asked Muto to write a piece for the newsletter via a mutual acquaintance.

In the course of meeting with Fukushima evacuees who had left their hometowns to come to Hiroshima and in talking with them on multiple occasions over the past five years, Takato sensed a perception among evacuees that evacuation was a bad thing. He was reminded of the resigned look on black rain sufferers' faces when he launched a local victims' association in 2002.

"We are just waiting to die," one of the black rain victims said at the time.

Takato was encouraged by Muto's words calling for cooperation among victims of nuclear weapons and nuclear catastrophes.

Takato met with those who had been hurt by the use of nuclear technology at the World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima in November last year. The backgrounds of participants varied, from those who had suffered from nuclear tests, to sufferers of nuclear plant accidents and uranium mining.

"(The forum) reinforced my resolve to eliminate all nuclear technology from the Earth," Takato said.

In the A3-size, one-page newsletter, Takato included details of the Hiroshima case and voices from plaintiffs. He is one of the plaintiffs and also acts as the secretariat chief for a black rain victims' association that backs the plaintiffs. Even though he fell ill from overwork after the turn of this year, Takato continued to work on the publication.

The 4,000 copies of the newsletter will be sent out to peace organizations and supporters across Japan.

"I want to call for support from outside Hiroshima as well," Takato says.

Muto's acknowledgment of Takato's activities has given him hope to fight in a long battle to end Japan's history of neglecting victims of nuclear technology.

(This is the final installment of a five-part series)

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