Nearly 90 percent of hibakusha, or atomic bomb victims, are frustrated by the lack of progress in the elimination of nuclear weapons, according to a survey jointly conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun and the Center for Peace at Hiroshima University.
The survey, conducted on atomic bomb victims ahead of the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, found that nearly a half of the respondents are pessimistic about the future, with some saying, “The abolishment of all nuclear weapons is unlikely to happen.”
Still, a large number of nuclear weapons are deployed worldwide and that causes anxiety and disappointment among hibakusha.
With the cooperation of hibakusha organizations in Japan and the United States, The Yomiuri Shimbun and the center distributed the questionnaire to 5,236 victims who were exposed to radiation in Hiroshima or Nagasaki from April to June. They received 1,640 responses.
Asked about the circumstances in which little progress has been made in the abolition of nuclear weapons, 91 percent expressed frustration.
Concerning the possibility of all nuclear arms being abolished, only 5 percent believe that would happen in their lifetime, while 33 percent believe it would happen in the distant future, although still not during their lives.
Negative opinions stood out, with 39 percent saying, “It is unlikely to happen,” and 7 percent certain “It would never happen.”
Asked why nuclear weapons have not yet been eliminated, a majority of 53 percent said, “This is because leaders of the various countries only think about their own national interests.”
In line with the 75th anniversary, another online survey was conducted among 401 freshmen at Hiroshima University and Nagasaki University for the purpose of examining what young people think about nuclear weapons. According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents called the atomic bombings by the United States unacceptable, while 29 percent said there was no choice.
In response to another question, 41 percent of students said nuclear arms could help deter war.
■ Outline of the surveys
The initial survey included 24 questions about issues such as the circumstances surrounding nuclear weapons and the suffering atomic bomb victims have endured. The breakdown of the 1,640 respondents who returned valid answers, excluding those who did not adequately fill out some of the items, are as follows: 928 exposed to radiation in Hiroshima and 656 in Nagasaki; 779 men and 861 women.
The average age of respondents was 82.98, with the oldest being 105.
The online questionnaire was conducted on first-year students at Hiroshima University and Nagasaki University, and of 401 respondents, 203 are students at Hiroshima University and 198 are at Nagasaki University giving answers.
■ Post more information online
Noriyuki Kawano, the director of the Center for Peace at Hiroshima University who studies atomic bombing and nuclear damage, said the following:
The first survey highlighted the suffering of atomic bomb victims, who wish for the abolishment of all nuclear weapons because of their hell-ish experience while knowing the difficulty of the realization of a nuclear-free world. The fact that the new coronavirus pandemic deteriorates relations among countries might increase their frustration.
Most of the students want to eliminate or reduce nuclear weapons.
Local governments in areas affected by the atomic bombs should take advantage of the current situation in which a new lifestyle is recommended because of the coronavirus crisis and disseminate more information online and through other platforms, so that their experiences will be widely used in education at home and abroad.