Workers' Compensation Awarded to Tadashi Kiyuna! First ever for malignant lymphoma
As reported in NIT 120 and 126, Tadashi Kiyuna died of malignant lymphoma in March 2005 at the age of 53 after being exposed to radiation through his work at nuclear power plants throughout Japan and at the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant. An expert committee established by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare recently concluded that there is a causal relationship between malignant lymphoma and worker radiation exposure. On October 27, after receiving the expert committee's report, the Yodogawa Labor Standard Supervision Office in Osaka informed Kiyuna's widow that it had accepted his family's application for workers' compensation. In so doing it overturned its September 2006 decision.
On hearing the news, Kiyuna's wife Sueko expressed her joy and her resolve in the following inspirational words:
"This result is due to the support of people throughout the whole of Japan. Time has stood still for me since the death of my husband, but it has begun to move again. I feel my strength returning through my whole body. If there are any other people like my husband suffering from cancer due to their exposure to radiation while working at nuclear plants, I would like to support them."
So that this success benefits all people exposed to radiation through their work who have been deprived of redress, the following actions should be taken:
1) The circumstances behind the acceptance of Kiyuna's application for worker's compensation for malignant lymphoma should be reported to Labour Bureaus and Labor Standard Supervision Offices throughout Japan;
2) Conditions related to leukemia, such as multiple myeloma (see section on Mitsuaki Nagao below) and malignant lymphoma, should be added to the list of recognized conditions for workers' compensation;
3) The terrible conditions under which Tadashi Kiyuna worked should be exposed;
4) The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare should make information available and improve the transparency of deliberative committees in order to expose the hidden truth of worker radiation exposure.
We would welcome any information about the situation in other countries.
Mitsuaki Nagao Appeal: High Court Judge Approaching the Case Positively
The late Mitsuaki Nagao, who died in December 2007 at the age of 82, was the first person to be awarded workers' compensation for multiple myeloma resulting from radiation exposure incurred while working at nuclear power plants (NIT 99). Subsequently, on 23 May 2008, the Tokyo District Court rejected Nagao's claim for damages against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) (NIT 125). The first hearing of his family's appeal to the Tokyo High Court was held on October 30.
The second half of the deliberations in the Tokyo District Court focused almost entirely on the diagnosis. There was hardly any discussion of the causal relationship between multiple myeloma and radiation exposure. Nevertheless, District Court Judge Hidetaka Matsui rejected not only the multiple myeloma diagnosis, but also the causal relationship, which had been recognized in the workers' compensation decision. It was an arbitrary verdict touching on issues that weren't even raised by the plaintiff
On October 30, Tokyo High Court Judge Kaoru Aoyagi pointed out that the fact of Nagao's employment at nuclear power plants and the fact that he became sick and received treatment were not in dispute. He went on to state frankly that he suspected that the key issue was the causal relationship between Nagao's work and his illness and that a change of thinking might be necessary. He also pointed out that the court is not a doctor, so it was not appropriate to become fixated on the name of the condition.
After the appalling verdict of the District Court, we welcome the positive attitude shown by the High Court Judge. The question of causal relationship was not adequately addressed in the District Court, so Nagao's legal team intend, based on epidemiological studies, to prove this relationship in the High Court. The second hearing will be held on December 25. We hope there will be lots of interest as the case unfolds.
Mikiko Watanabe (CNIC)
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