In its judgment, the Hiroshima District Court ruled that 84 plaintiffs affected by radiation-induced diseases after World War II bombing should receive the same benefits as other victims living closer to the blast range.
The explosions have slowly killed tens of thousands of other people from burns or radiation-related illnesses. They have also caused radioactive “black rain” leaks throughout the region, a mixture of explosive sediment particles, city-wide fires from fires and other hazardous elements. Black rain fell on people’s skin and clothes, was inhaled, contaminated with food and water, and caused widespread radiation poisoning.
The U.S. remains the only country to use an atomic bomb in war.
Seiji Takato, 79, who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, was 4 years old when the explosion occurred. When he was 8 years old, he developed inflammation of the lymph in his arm, and since then he has suffered a stroke and heart problems.
Until now, however, he and others living in “low-rain”; areas have not had access to free medical care for victims in “heavy rain” areas, areas identified by the government as the most affected and closest to the blast zone. This sentence means that, for the first time, victims outside this area are given the same benefits.
“We told the government the facts and the truth as they were. But they never listened to us,” Takato declared after the court announced. “I’m extremely happy. I didn’t expect all 84 (plaintiffs) to win the case.”
Takato added that he was “worried” because all the applicants were now elderly, usually between the ages of 80 and 90. “We will all die if this (case) were extended,” he said.
The court ordered the city and the prefectural government to provide the plaintiffs with a certificate recognizing them as “A-bomb victims,” giving them medical benefits for treatment worth about $ 300 a month.
At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government had not decided whether to appeal the ruling. “We will have a detailed verdict examined by the ministers, Hiroshima Prefecture and the city of Hiroshima to decide on the next steps,” he said.
75 years later
The landmark was adopted a week before the 75th anniversary of the attack, when former US President Harry S. Truman allowed US bomber B-29 Enola Gay to drop a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima called the “Little Boy.”
Those who survived say the detonation began with a silent flash and a huge wave of intense heat that turned the clothes into rags. The people closest to the point of impact were immediately evaporated or burned to ashes. There was a deafening boom and an explosion that felt like some of the needles were pierced by some.
Then fires broke out. Flame tornadoes glided through the city. Many of the survivors found themselves with blisters. Bodies littered the streets.
The complete devastation has led many, including former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to criticize the decision to use the atomic bomb.
1958 Hiroshima City Council passed a resolution condemning Truman for refusing to express remorse, calling the ex-president’s position “cruel slander to the people of Hiroshima and their fallen victims.”
However, Truman’s position only hardened in response to the question: “I believe that the sacrifices of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were urgent and necessary for the well-being of both Japan and the Allies.”
The horrors of the bombing and its aftermath have since been captured and immortalized at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, located near the land of zero in a Japanese city.
Some survivors have chosen their personal mission to make sure that no one forgets the disastrous events in Hiroshima.
Teacher Kosei Mito survived an explosion in her mother’s womb – she was four months pregnant when the bomb fell. For the past 13 years, he has been visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial almost every day, preparing documents on the bombing and its aftermath in various languages, and visiting visitors in binders.
“Without knowing the historical facts, we can repeat the same mistakes again,” he said. “We are not responsible for what has happened in the past, but we are responsible for the future.”
CNN’s Brad Lendon, Thomas Patterson and Ryan Browne contributed to this report.