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Asia Minute: Insurance Company Rejects Health Claims Related to Bikini Atoll Nuclear Testing


It’s been more than 60 years since the United States blew up a massive hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It was one of a series of tests—but the size of this explosion took scientists by surprise. It was a thousand times more powerful than the nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Legal cases about the bombing continue to this day—including one with developments this week. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

A Japanese insurance company has rejected health claims by Japanese fishermen related to their exposure to radiation from a U.S. hydrogen bomb explosion in 1954.

Jiji Press reports the Japan Health Insurance Association will not approve workman compensation claims sought by seven former fishing boat crew members from Kochi and Miyagi prefectures….and four family members of others who have died.

Claims of two other surviving crew members are still under review.

At the time of the U.S. nuclear test, the fishing boats were in surrounding waters. And crew members later developed diseases including cancer and leukemia. But an association of radiation experts released a report this week saying they could not confirm that the extent of radiation the crew members were exposed to was enough to trigger the diseases.

Former crew members of another fishing boat that was in the area have been compensated—one crew member there died of acute radiation poisoning.

A group called the Pacific Nuclear Disaster Assistance Center has been working on the part of former fishermen and the families of those who have died.

Jiji Press quoted the group’s secretary-general reacting to the decision with shock – saying he feels “dumbfounded rather than regretful.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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