Newly discovered documents suggest a US commission tasked with studying the physical effects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki allowed survivors who cooperated with their research to receive preferential treatment.
The US set up the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, known as ABCC, in 1947. But survivors slammed the commission for not providing medical care as a general rule.
Documents found at the US National Academy of Sciences show that in 1956, during the Cold War era, the president of a group of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima wrote a letter to the ABCC. The president explained the group's pro-US, anti-Communist stance and offered to cooperate with the commission's study.
He then asked that the group's members be given access to all the commission's medical resources.
The documents say the ABCC cooperated with Japanese institutions so that the group's members would be given care on a priority basis.
Japan at the time was reeling from an incident in 1954, in which the Japanese fishing boat "Daigo Fukuryu Maru" and its crew were exposed to radioactive fallout from a US hydrogen bomb test in the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.
The ABCC explained that its decision to offer limited treatment would help win over atomic bomb survivors and medical personnel.
Hiroko Takahashi, a researcher at Nagoya University graduate school, is an expert on the ABCC.
Takahashi says the ABCC shifted polices and began offering some treatment to contain the spread of anti-US, anti-nuclear sentiment in Japan. She says the documents clearly show what US scientists were really thinking and their unashamed attitude that they would care only for those who are on their side.
Takahashi stresses the need to disclose more such documents to fulfill accountability toward atomic bomb survivors.