One in five college students in Hiroshima sees need for nuclear weapons

by Keisuke Yoshihara, Staff Writer

Of 236 university students in Hiroshima Prefecture who completed a survey on peace issues, 21% responded that Japan should acquire nuclear weapons and 62% stated that abolishing nuclear weapons is “impossible.” The Chugoku Branch of dot-jp conducted the survey and analyzed the results in July. Dot-jp is a nationwide non-profit organization consisting of college students. Its Chugoku Branch is located in Hiroshima and its members are mainly university students living in Hiroshima.

The respondents were 119 Hiroshima University students, 76 Hiroshima City University students, 35 Shudo University students, and 6 Kinki University Engineering Faculty students. Members of the dot-jp Chugoku Branch asked students in their own schools to take the survey. The organization gained the participation of 137 (58%) students originally from Hiroshima Prefecture and 99 students originally from other prefectures.

Regarding nuclear weapons, 41 (17%) responded, “At heart, I believe it is better not to possess them, but as a diplomatic strategy, it cannot be helped” while ten students (4%) replied, “Japan should possess them.” Together, these groups comprised 51 students (21%). Thus, one in five respondents perceived a necessity for possessing nuclear weapons.

Abolishing nuclear weapons is “Impossible,” replied 147 students (62%), almost triple the 52 (22%) who stated, “It is possible.”

Meanwhile, only 127 (53%) were able to state the correct date and time of the Hiroshima bombing. The percentage of 53% was no higher for students originally from Hiroshima Prefecture. Only 29 students (12%) knew this information for Nagasaki.

Ayaka Mori, 19 years old, a second-year student in the Faculty of International Studies of Hiroshima City University, handles PR for the Chugoku Branch of dot-jp. Mori observed, “Why wouldn’t there be more knowledge about the atomic bombing, more revulsion toward these weapons among students in Hiroshima? I find it incredible. We need more basic peace education, at the university level, too.”

Kazumi Mizumoto, Associate Professor at Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University, offered his analysis of the survey by saying, “With percentages like these among students in Hiroshima, I imagine they’re even worse among young people in other prefectures. Today’s students tend to accept Japan’s diplomatic strategies uncritically. They haven’t been properly informed on nuclear weapons and the peace education provided through high school has grown perfunctory and rigid. I suspect they aren’t able to reflect on the nuclear issue within the context of history.”

(Originally published on August 3, 2008)