Hiroshima Insight

A-bomb orphans

Hunger and crime resulted from the A-bomb tragedy

Children whose parents died in the atomic bombing are known as “A-bomb orphans.” The number of A-bomb orphans from the Hiroshima bombing has been estimated at between 4,000 to 5,000, but the total isn’t clear since it seems this figure includes some children whose mother or father was still alive, but were living on the streets because of poverty.

Two days after the bombing, Hijiyama National School (now, Hijiyama Elementary School in Minami Ward) became a shelter for orphans (called “lost children” at the time). At one time the shelter housed about 200 children, but many children died there.

In December 1945, the Hiroshima War Orphans Foster Home was established in the Itsukaichi district (part of present-day Saeki Ward). Then, in September 1946, the Hiroshima Prefectural War Orphans Foster Home Ninoshima Gakuen was established on Ninoshima Island, just south of the city, and this shelter, among others, gave the city more facilities to take in the orphaned children. A campaign for the “moral adoption” of the city’s orphans was also initiated by people of the United States and Japan, who would exchange letters with the children and send them money and gifts.

Still, there were some children who did not find a place to live, and died as a result of hunger and the cold of winter, or became involved in crime and lost their lives. The atomic bombing had a huge impact on the lives of innocent children.

[Facilities for A-bomb orphans and children]

1. Name of facility
2. When it opened
3. Number of children

1. Hiroshima Shinsei Gakuen
2. October 1945
3. 75

1. Hiroshima War Orphans Foster Home
2. December 1945
3. 77

1. Hiroshima Prefectural War Orphans Foster Home Ninoshima Gakuen
2. September 1946
3. 185

1. Hikari no sono setsuri no ie
2. August 1947
3. 83

1. Hiroshima Shudoin
2. April 1948
3. 98

1. Roppo Gakuen
2. January 1949
3. 96

Source: “Shinshu Hiroshima City History”
(Note: The number of children at the facilities varied, depending on the time.)