JAPANESE TEAM TO EXAMINE FIJI NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 10, 2002 – Radio Australia)---A Japanese medical team is about to arrive in Fiji to examine former sailors and soldiers who served in the British central Pacific nuclear testing program in the late 1950s.

The five-member team -- from the Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs -- is comprised of a doctor with expertise in radiation illnesses, a survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, and three anti-nuclear peace activists.

During 1957-1958, Britain conducted nine atmospheric nuclear tests at Christmas and Malden islands in the central Pacific.

About 300 Fiji soldiers and sailors were exposed to the tests.

While many of Fiji's nuclear veterans are suffering from a range of medical complaints they attribute to radiation exposure, the British government has so far refused to accept any responsibility.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

PACIFIC CONCERNS RESOURCE CENTRE (PCRC) Suva, Fiji Islands

MEDIA ADVISORY May 8, 2002

JAPANESE DELEGATION TO EXAMINE FIJI NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS

From 10-19 May, a delegation led by the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) will be visiting Fiji to conduct preliminary medical examinations on former Fijian sailors and soldiers who served at the British nuclear testing program in the central Pacific in the late 1950s.

The five-member delegation will comprise a medical doctor with expertise in radiation illnesses, a survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, and three anti-nuclear/peace activists.

In 1957-1958, Britain conducted nine atmospheric nuclear tests at Christmas and Malden islands in the central Pacific. Together with British and New Zealand troops, nearly 300 Fijian soldiers and sailors served in "Operation Grapple." Today, many of Fiji’s nuclear test veterans are suffering from a range of medical complaints they attribute to radiation exposure at the test sites.

There are several ways that radiation can affect people's health: through exposure to beta or gamma radiation emitted from a nuclear detonation, by inhaling radioactive airborne particles, or by ingesting fission products that have entered the food chain (e.g. drinking contaminated water or fish that has ingested radioactive particles).

PCRC has collated evidence that shows many of the veterans are affected by serious illnesses, including aplastic anaemia, leucopenia, lipomatous growths and psoariatic dermatitis - all that can be related to radiation exposure. This has been documented in the book Kirisimasi, published by PCRC in 1999.

The FNTVA has now extended this research to descendents and has been conducting a family medical study. For those veterans who have died their wives and children are now pursuing their cases. The Japanese delegation will examine both the veterans and their descendents for illnesses attributed to radiation exposure.

The British Government has so far refused any moral, legal and financial responsibility for the health impacts of the tests. It is hoped that results from the examinations can be used as evidence in the veterans’ fight for justice and recognition.

A panel discussion will also be held at the University of the South Pacific where the nuclear victims (both visiting and locals) will testify on their experiences.

For further details, please contact Ema Tagicakibau or Hannah Harborow at PCRC on 330 4649.

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