8 Août 2012
Hereditary effects of radiation to be studied
Children born to South Korean survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will take part in a new study. It will investigate whether their illnesses are linked to their parents' exposure to radiation.
The research will involve analysis of blood samples from atomic bomb survivors, or hibakusha, and their children to determine whether the effects of exposure are passed between generations.
There are more than 2,600 atomic bombing survivors and about 10,000 second-generation hibakusha in South Korea. About 2,300 second-generation hibakusha suffer from diseases such as leukemia and arthritis. Many of them believe their diseases were triggered by their parents' exposure to radiation.
A group of second-generation hibakusha patients will organize the study with the cooperation of a team led by Taisei Nomura, Professor Emeritus of radiology at Osaka University.
The group's leader Han Jong-sun says he hopes the study will help make him and other second-generation hibakusha eligible for support from the South Korean government as soon as possible.
The offspring of atomic bomb survivors in Japan receive health checkups on a regular basis, but those in South Korea are not subject to the same benefits from their federal government. In December, the province of South Gyeongsang became the first local government in South Korea to pass an ordinance providing support for second- and third-generation descendants.
Professor Emeritus Nomura says the hereditary effects of radiation exposure have already been proven in animal experiments. He says he will work with South Korea to lead to more understanding.
Experts at the Japan-US organization Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima say the genetic impact of the 1945 atomic bombings has not yet been determined.