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Nagasaki mayor furious as expanded 'black rain' aid proposals limited to Hiroshima

Nagasaki Mayor Tomohisa Taue is seen expressing his anger regarding the content of an outline plan proposal for expanded aid for people exposed to radioactive "black rain" in this image taken at Nagasaki City Hall, on Dec. 28, 2021. (Mainichi/Atsuki Nakayama)

NAGASAKI -- The mayor of this southwest Japan city expressed anger at a Dec. 28 press conference after Nagasaki was excluded from a national government outline plan related to the aid expansion to people affected by the radioactive "black rain" that fell immediately after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

    The national government's outline plan for revisions to hibakusha A-bomb survivor recognition guidelines does not extend to people who were also likely exposed to radiation from the bombing in Nagasaki. The exclusion prompted Nagasaki Mayor Tomohisa Taue to say, "Its contents divide Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I feel extreme anger."

    The outline plan was put forward by five entities: The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the prefectures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the plan indicates that the 84 plaintiffs who were affected by black rain and recognized as A-bomb survivors in a July Hiroshima High Court ruling as well as "people who were in similar situations" are to be eligible for aid, it also stated that people from Nagasaki will not be subject to expanded aid provisions this time. Although the city and prefecture of Hiroshima have agreed to the proposals, Nagasaki prefecture and city have opposed it as "unacceptable." The health ministry intends to continue separate talks with the Nagasaki governments.

    Mayor Taue said regarding the policy, "It is a clear fact that black rain and other objects also fell on Nagasaki, and despite us continually maintaining that they are the same circumstances as in Hiroshima, it was not accepted." He also indicated that he was joining with Nagasaki Gov. Hodo Nakamura to directly petition the health ministry to include Nagasaki in the outline plan's text.

    Gov. Nakamura was also critical at a Dec. 28 regular press conference, saying, "It is difficult to accept an outline plan that limits (aid eligibility) to Hiroshima." He referenced a fiscal 1999 testimonial survey by the Nagasaki prefectural and municipal governments on areas not specified as affected by the atomic bombing, in which 129 people responded that they had been exposed to black rain, and said, "That people have been exposed to black rain is an objective fact based on testimony."

    Meanwhile, on Dec. 28 the Nagasaki Doctor & Dentist Association sent a letter of objection to the health ministry's view that "there is no objective evidence that black rain fell in Nagasaki," which the ministry indicated in five-party discussions.

    The letter argues that, based on the evidence such as interviews the association has done with residents and the city of Nagasaki regional map made between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s that specifies areas where black rain fell, "A number of objective documents indicating that black rain fell (in areas not specified as affected by the atomic bombing) exist." It also criticized Nagasaki's exemption from areas subject to expanded aid provisions, saying it was a "discussion with a foregone conclusion."

    (Japanese original by Atsuki Nakayama and In Tanaka, Nagasaki Bureau)

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