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60% of Japan's 2nd-gen. A-bomb survivors worry about health, other issues: nationwide poll

Showa Women's University associate researcher Yoshihiro Yagi, left, and Emiko Kadokawa, back row, among others involved in the survey, are seen during a news conference in Tokyo's Minato Ward, on Nov. 22, 2021. (Mainichi/Kayo Mukuda)

TOKYO -- Some 60% of second-generation "hibakusha" reportedly have anxieties and worries about their health and other issues, according to a finalized 102-page report on the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations' first national survey of children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing survivors.

    At a Nov. 22 news conference in Tokyo's Minato Ward to explain the survey's findings, the group said it would use the report's data to make requests to the central and local governments following discussion of issues based on the survey results.

    The November 2016 to July 2017 survey saw 17,567 questionnaires distributed through community hibakusha or second-generation hibakusha organizations. Accurate numbers for second-generation hibakusha are unknown due to a lack of research by the Japanese government. A total of 3,417 survey subjects provided valid responses.

    According to the group's report, 60.3% of respondents said they "have anxieties and worries as second-generation survivors." Among the written responses in the free-answer sections were second-generation hibakusha's anxieties that they didn't know when they could develop illnesses and that they're distressed by the cause of their sickness remaining unknown.

    Yoshihiro Yagi, an associate researcher of sociology at Showa Women's University who helped compile the results, emphasized that anxieties and worries of exposure to atomic bombing radiation are carried over to second- and third-generation hibakusha. He told the news conference that the survey "has found that the atomic bombings have affected (hibakusha's) family members."

    Suzeri Yokoyama, an associate professor at Seigakuin University in Saitama Prefecture, said, "The fact we managed to conduct a nationwide fact-finding survey itself is rare." She added, "It's hard to find out where second-generation hibakusha are located overall, and it should be noted that (despite such circumstances) over 17,000 survey forms were distributed."

    Emiko Kadokawa, 74, a second-generation hibakusha whose father was exposed to radiation when he went to Hiroshima after the bombing, is the second- and third-generation hibakusha branch head of the Kanagawa prefectural A-bomb sufferers' organization. She is among the members who worked on the survey project. Regarding the findings, she said, "Many people are gravely worried about their health and their children's health. I was surprised to learn about this, because I feel the same."

    She also told the news conference, "I've always worried about how second-generation hibakusha across the country are doing. The latest survey gives us a clear path on what issues faced by second-generation hibakusha need studying."

    The report can be purchased for 1,000 yen (approx. $9), including tax, with separate shipment fees. Contact the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations for detail at 03-3438-1897 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Kayo Mukuda, Tokyo City News Department)

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