Atomic activism : the history and legacy of Japan’s Hibakusha activists
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Atomic bomb survivors, called hibakusha, are active in campaigning against nuclear arms, but also in demanding that the Japanese government recognize their healthcare needs and meet them. This fight for recognition, of both their status as atomic bomb survivors and of their healthcare needs, has been long and arduous, and does not exist in a vacuum. Influencing and influenced by Japanese environmental disaster cases of the twentieth century, hibakusha set the standard for the Japanese government to set a high burden of proof policy for victims of environmental disasters, excluding large numbers of suffering populations. Even after seventy years of litigation and reform, the Japanese government does not recognize all atomic bomb survivors. I analyze the history of hibakusha activism, legislation, and litigation, and compare it to other environmental cases, including the ongoing 3/11 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster. I examine the justification for hibakusha petitions, how activism proceeded, how it influences other cases, and ultimately the legacies of hibakusha activism going forward.