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From Asahi Shimbun

'A-Bomb 60 Years Questionnaire'
80% of hibakusha still suffer mental anguish.
Of 13,000 respondents, half blame both Japan and the US.
(August 6, 2005, The Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Morning Edition)

The Asahi Shimbun's "A-bomb 60 Years Questionnaire" targeted 40,000 A-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Responses were received from 13,204 people, representing a 32% response rate. The questionnaire asked A-bomb survivors about their health condition and how they perceive the damage caused by the atomic bombs now, 60 years after they were dropped. About 90% of respondents have concerns about their health, while about 80% still have flashbacks during their daily lives of their experience of the atomic bombing. Those who had acute symptoms, such as loss of hair and bleeding, immediately after the bombing were more likely to suffer mentally and physically. In regard to responsibility for the damage caused by the atomic bombing, half believed that Japan and the US both share responsibility and about 60% replied that there is a possibility that nuclear weapons will be used again.

The average age of respondents was 72.4. The questionnaire contained 51 questions requiring multiple-choice or written responses about issues such as physical and mental health, and life in general.

In response to questions concerning "physical health," 45% of respondents said they felt anxious about their health "always" and another 45% said they felt anxious "sometimes." 35% said they experienced acute symptoms immediately after their exposure to radiation (by the end of 1945). Of these, 59% said they always felt anxious, much higher than 32% for those who did not experience acute symptoms.

57% said they had experienced anxiety over the health of their children and grandchildren. Genetic effects of radiation exposure are not fully understood, so the fact that they were A-bomb survivors caused them to feel anxious for the health of their children and grandchildren.

In regard to their mental condition, 23% of respondents said they experience flashbacks "often" during daily life, while 53% said they experience them "sometimes." An age-based analysis showed that about 60% of young survivors (those who were less than 10 years old at the time of the A-bomb) experience flashbacks either "often" or "sometimes." This shows that experiencing the atomic bombing in childhood also produced trauma.

Of the respondents who experienced acute symptoms, 88% experience flashbacks "often" or "sometimes," which is significantly higher than 71% for those who did not have acute symptoms.

20% of respondents said they had experienced discrimination and/or prejudice for being an A-bomb survivor. Of these, (in response to a question where more than one answer was possible) 84% said they experienced discrimination/prejudice in relation to marriage, while 17% said they experienced it in relation to job seeking. 50% of respondents took the view that both the Japanese and the US governments were responsible for the damage caused by the atomic bombing, while only 28% believed that the US government was solely responsible.

59% answered that there is a possibility that nuclear weapons could be used in future. The highest priority issue to be tackled by the Japanese government was seen by 57%, of respondents to be "legislation of the Three Non-Nuclear Principals."

Survey Method
The Asahi Shimbun prepared the questionnaire in cooperation with Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) and a joint research team of Hiroshima University and Nagasaki University. The questionnaire was either sent by mail, or delivered by hand during March and April to about 40,000 people whose addresses were available. The questionnaire was delivered via A-bomb sufferers' organizations in each prefecture. By the end of May, Hiroshima regional branch of The Asahi Shimbun had received responses from 13,204 people from throughout the country. The most common residential locations of the respondents were Hiroshima (36%), Nagasaki (13%), and Tokyo (12%). 65% of respondents were exposed in Hiroshima, 31% in Nagasaki, 4% did not specify where they were exposed, and nine respondents were exposed in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.