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Survey: 55% of hibakusha stressed over health impact of 1945 radiation exposure via The Asahi Shimbun

More than 55 percent of survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings still feel anxiety over the impact of radiation exposure on their health, and nearly half fear their descendants may also be affected, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Aug. 6 bombing of Hiroshima and the Aug. 9 bombing of Nagasaki at the end of World War II, The Asahi Shimbun sent questionnaires to about 22,000 hibakusha.

Of the 5,762 people who gave valid responses, 3,193, or 55.4 percent, said that whenever they become ill or feel subpar, they fear their conditions could be a result of their exposure to radiation from the atomic bombs.

In addition, 2,801 respondents, or 48.6 percent, said they feel anxiety over whether their exposure to radiation may have affected the health of their children and grandchildren, although such genetic effects have not been scientifically confirmed.

The questionnaires were sent to atomic bomb survivors around Japan through organizations under the umbrella of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo).

The respondents are from 46 prefectures, including 1,542 in Hiroshima Prefecture, 1,244 in Tokyo, 550 in Kanagawa Prefecture and 243 in Nagasaki Prefecture. Their average age is 81.1, up 8.7 years from the previous survey a decade ago.

Many survivors have grown alarmed by the threat of nuclear warfare in the current international situation, including heightening diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent statement that the country was prepared to use nuclear weapons.

As many as 3,656 respondents, or 63.5 percent, said the risk of nuclear weapons being used in warfare has increased over the past decade.

More than a quarter of the respondents, or 1,474, said it is unreasonable for Japan’s national security to rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, while 2,519 people, or 43.7 percent, said such a policy is inevitable.

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