A handful of Japanese fishermen who developed cancer after being exposed to fallout from US nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands in the early 1950s are to apply for workers’ compensation from the Japanese government. The men, along with the relatives of other sailors who subsequently died of radiation-related diseases, plan to file their requests for compensation with the Japan Health Insurance Association in February, according to the Mainichi newspaper. There is concern, however, that the Japanese government may choose to contest the claims after the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare ruled in September 2014 that the crews of all but one ship were only exposed to small amounts of radiation. READ MORE: Bikini Atoll nuclear bomb tests still cast a shadow, 60 years on Under pressure from the Pacific Ocean Nuclear Disaster Support Centre, a pressure group set up by survivors and their relatives, the ministry finally released documents detailing the amount of radiation that fishing vessels operating in the central Pacific at the time of the tests had been exposed to. The ministry concluded that the degree of exposure fell short of the amount that international standards would recognise as having an impact on human health. Undeterred, the men intend to push ahead with their claims, supported by new evidence gathered by a professor who specialises in measuring radiation. A professor at Okayama University of Science, Shin Toyoda examined enamel on the teeth of fishermen who were some 1,300km east of Bikini Atoll when the Castle Bravo thermonuclear tests were carried out between March 1 and May 14, 1954. The tests revealed radiation measuring up to 414 millisieverts in the enamel, equivalent to people standing about 1.6km from the hypocentre of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Under Japanese law, anyone who was within 3.5km of the Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bomb detonation points is eligible for medical allowances for a range of illnesses, including cancer. So far, the only fishermen to receive workers’ compensation payments were the crew of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, or the Lucky Dragon 5. The tuna fishing boat was an estimated 130km from Bikini Atoll and outside the US government’s 148,000 sq km exclusion zone around the island. The first of the Castle Bravo tests, on March 1, 1954, was three times more powerful than scientists had initially predicted, producing a fireball around 7km aross within a second. The mushroom cloud reached a height of 14km in around one minute and climbed to an altitude of 40km. The blast was around 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As well as producing a larger blast, stronger-than-anticipated winds took the fallout far greater distances than the scientists had expected. Fallout began to coat the Daigo Fukuryu Maru – and its 23 crew – about two hours later. Unaware of the danger, they scooped the radioactive ash off the deck with their bare hands, while one of the fishermen, Matashichi Oishi, said he licked the dust, reporting that it was gritty but had no taste. READ MORE: Marshall Islands sues nuclear-armed states, says they’re not disarming By the time the ship docked in Japan two weeks later, the men were suffering from nausea, headaches, burns, pain in their eyes and bleeding from their gums and were diagnosed with acute radiation poisoning. In September, 40-year-old Aikichi Kuboyama died as a result of his exposure. In 1955, the US paid Japan US$2 million – around Y720 million at the time – in “consolation money” and concluded the issue at the political level. The Japanese government paid each of the crew of the Lucky Dragon Y2 million, but provided nothing to fishermen on other ships.