The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) has decided to add multiple myeloma and malignant lymphoma to its list of radiation-induced conditions eligible for workers' compensation.
The list of recognized radiation-related conditions was established by regulation in 1978 under the Labor Standards Act. This is the first time that new conditions have been added to the list, which includes leukemia, lung cancer, skin cancer, bone cancer and thyroid cancer.
In January 2004 Mitsuaki Nagao became the first nuclear industry worker to be awarded workers' compensation for multiple myeloma and in October 2008 Tadashi Kiyuna became the first such worker to be awarded workers' compensation for malignant lymphoma. In order to gain recognition it was necessary to set up support networks, to demonstrate the validity of their claims by submitting the latest research papers from Japan and abroad, and to engage in repeated negotiations with MHLW. In addition,
MHLW assembled a team of experts to consider numerous epidemiological studies. The whole process took many years.
Adding these diseases to the list of recognized conditions will make workers more aware of their eligibility for workers' compensation. Also, the Labor Standard Supervision Offices will see the conditions on the list when it assesses workers' compensation claims. Thus the barriers to acceptance of workers' compensation claims for these conditions will be reduced. This outcome was made possible thanks to the long battles fought by Nagao and Kiyuna.
In future, we hope to bring to light the suffering of the many workers who have diseases caused by exposure to radiation, but whose conditions have not been recognized. In doing so, we hope to contribute to the protection of worker health through reduction of radiation exposure.
Mikiko Watanabe (CNIC)