Nihon Hidankyo survey reveals 60% of second-generation A-bomb survivors have “anxieties or concerns,” and 30% are interested in assuming a role conveying A-bombing experiences

by Yo Kono, Staff Writer

On October 9, Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) released the results of an initial survey of second-generation A-bomb survivors living in Japan. Of the respondents, 60.3 percent said “yes” to the question asking if they had any anxieties or concerns as a second-generation A-bomb survivor. The results offer further evidence that children of A-bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain worried about the potential impact of the radiation, to which their parents were exposed, on their health.

Professor Yoshihiro Yagi, an instructor with the Faculty of Education at Ehime University (the study’s supporting institution), announced the outcome of the interim report during Nihon Hidankyo’s Tokyo meeting with representatives from each prefecture in attendance. From November 2016 to July 2017, the questionnaire was distributed to 17,567 people through local A-bomb survivors’ groups. Approximately 3,417 (20%), responded.

If a respondent answered they had anxieties or concerns, the survey prompted for further details, and provided options for selection (multiple answers were allowed). The largest number of respondents, 78.6 percent, chose “Impact of radiation on my health and physical conditions.” Fifty-six percent selected “My parents’ health issues and nursing care,” followed by 41.8 percent who answered “Impact of radiation on my children.”

The survey also asked respondents if they felt a desire to participate in activities related to sharing information about the atomic bombing. It also asked if, being second-generation to A-bomb survivors, they had an interest in taking over the role of communicating their parents’ experiences moving forward. More than half (55.5%) responded, “I have nothing I want to do.” A number significantly exceeding the 32.4 percent of respondents who answered, “I have something I want to do.” Of all those who responded, 12.1% provided no response to this particular question. These numbers serve as a reminder of the difficulty in deciding how to keep the stories of A-bomb survivors alive despite their declining population.

For a question directed at whether they had conscious feelings of being second-generation A-bomb survivors, 78.8 percent answered “Yes” while 21.2 percent responded “No.” Respondents who answered “yes,” were prompted with a follow-up question asking them to specify the times when they most often experienced such feelings. Again, multiple selections were allowed from the choices given. Among those who answered, 84.0 percent chose “When memorial ceremonies related to the atomic bombing are held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki every August,” while 66.2 percent answered “When I watch or listen to A-bomb survivors’ activities or a recounting of their A-bomb experience.”

Asked about what they want to request to the national or local governments (again, multiple choices were allowed), “financial support for my medical expenses” was chosen by the largest number of respondents; accounting for 48.7 percent. Others chose “Issuance of a health certificate for second-generation A-bomb survivors (48.3%),” followed by the “Implementation of cancer screening for second-generation survivors,” selected by 41.9 percent of respondents.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has consigned the execution of free health check-ups for second-generation A-bomb survivors, to local governments. No other assistance has been provided. Nihon Hidankyo will consolidate the results of the questionnaire in a final report, to be released in the summer of next year. This way, its contents can be communicated when making requests to national and local governments. Jiro Hamasumi, 73, assistant secretary-general of Nihon Hidankyo, said, “The survey results support the fact that there are many second-generation A-bomb survivors who remain concerned about their health. We want to make use of this data to encourage more support for them from the government.”

Prior to concluding its two-day schedule, meeting participants adopted an appeal calling on the Japanese government to promptly sign and ratify the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

(Originally published on October 10, 2019)