Ministry panel proposes illness risk gauge for A-bomb victims.
A health ministry panel on Friday proposed the use of a new gauge to measure the risks faced by atomic-bomb victims of developing cancer and other illness, following criticism from victims that there have been no clear-cut yardsticks.
The proposed gauge could be introduced as early as next month to supplement yardsticks for determining whether victims are suffering from any illness caused by A-bomb radiation, officials said.
The ministry has faced criticism that doctors and other experts rely heavily on past experience and ''hunches'' in their diagnoses, the officials said.
The ministry is also hoping the new yardstick, which takes into account age and radiation exposure among other factors, will help reduce the time required for diagnosis, currently averaging two months, according to the officials.
The new gauge will be consistent with the so-called DS86 yardstick, under which people who were at least 2 kilometers away from ground zero in the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 are considered unaffected by radiation, and hence ineligible to be officially counted as victims.
The new risk gauge was drawn up by a ministry research group set up last year. It used data on radiation victims collected by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, funded by both the Japanese and U.S. governments.
In addition to estimated radiation exposure, the gauge also takes into account victims' ages, gender and existing illness.
A-bomb victims diagnosed as suffering from radiation-caused injury or sickness are entitled to medical benefits of 139,600 yen per month.