Hibakusha (被爆者?) is the Japanese word for the surviving victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The word literally translates as "explosion-affected people" and is used to refer to people who were exposed to radiation from the bombings.
The Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law defines hibakusha as people who fall into one or more of the following categories: within a few kilometers of the hypocenters of the bombs; within 2 km of the hypocenters within two weeks of the bombings; exposed to radiation from fallout; or not yet born but carried by pregnant women in any of these categories. The Japanese government has recognized about 650,000 people as hibakusha. As of March 31, 2016[update], 174,080 are still alive, mostly in Japan. The government of Japan recognizes about 1% of these as having illnesses caused by radiation.
Hibakusha are entitled to government support. They receive a certain amount of allowance per month. About 1%, certified as suffering from bomb-related diseases, receive a special medical allowance.
The memorials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki contain lists of the names of the hibakusha who are known to have died since the bombings. Updated annually on the anniversaries of the bombings, as of August 2016[update] the memorials record the names of more than 475,000 hibakusha; 303,195 in Hiroshima and 172,230 in Nagasaki.
In 1957 the Japanese Parliament passed a law providing for free medical care for hibakusha. During the 1970s, non-Japanese hibakusha who suffered from those atomic attacks began to demand the right for free medical care and the right to stay in Japan for that purpose. In 1978 the Japanese Supreme Court ruled that such persons were entitled to free medical care while staying in Japan.
During the war, Japan brought many Korean conscripts to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to work as slaves. According to recent estimates, about 20,000 Koreans were killed in Hiroshima and about 2,000 died in Nagasaki. It is estimated that one in seven of the Hiroshima victims was of Korean ancestry. For many years, Koreans had a difficult time fighting for recognition as atomic bomb victims and were denied health benefits. However, most issues have been addressed in recent years through lawsuits.
Japanese American survivors
It was a common practice before the war for American Issei, or first-generation immigrants, to send their children on extended trips to Japan to study or visit relatives. More Japanese immigrated to the U.S. from Hiroshima than from any other prefecture, and Nagasaki also sent a high number of immigrants to Hawai'i and the mainland. There was, therefore, a sizable population of American-born Nisei and Kibei living in their parents' hometowns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time of the atomic bombings. The actual number of Japanese Americans affected by the bombings is unknown — although estimates put approximately 11,000 in Hiroshima city alone — but some 3,000 of them are known to have survived and returned to the U.S. after the war.
A second group of hibakusha counted among Japanese American survivors are those who came to the U.S. in a later wave of Japanese immigration during the 1950s and 1960s. Most in this group were born in Japan and migrated to the U.S. in search of educational and work opportunities that were scarce in post-war Japan. Many were "war brides," or Japanese women who had married American men related to the U.S. military's occupation of Japan.
As of 2014, there are about 1,000 recorded Japanese American hibakusha living in the United States. They receive monetary support from the Japanese government and biannual medical checkups with Hiroshima and Nagasaki doctors familiar with the particular concerns of atomic bomb survivors. The U.S. government provides no support to Japanese American hibakusha.
Other foreign survivors
While one British Commonwealth citizen and seven Dutch POWs (two names known) died in the Nagasaki bombing, at least two POWs reportedly died postwar from cancer thought to have been caused by the atomic bomb. One American POW, Joe Kieyoomia, was in Nagasaki at the time of the bombing but survived, reportedly having been shielded from the effects of the bomb by the concrete walls of his cell.
People who suffered the effects of both bombings are known as nijū hibakusha in Japan.
A documentary called Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was produced in 2006. The producers found 165 people who were victims of both bombings, and the production was screened at the United Nations.
On March 24, 2009, the Japanese government officially recognized Tsutomu Yamaguchi (1916–2010) as a double hibakusha. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was confirmed to be 3 kilometers from ground zero in Hiroshima on a business trip when the bomb was detonated. He was seriously burnt on his left side and spent the night in Hiroshima. He got back to his home city of Nagasaki on August 8, a day before the bomb in Nagasaki was dropped, and he was exposed to residual radiation while searching for his relatives. He was the first officially recognized survivor of both bombings. Tsutomu Yamaguchi died at the age of 93 on January 4, 2010 of stomach cancer.
Hibakusha and their children were (and still are) victims of severe discrimination when it comes to prospects of marriage or work due to public ignorance about the consequences of radiation sickness, with much of the public believing it to be hereditary or even contagious. This is despite the fact that no statistically demonstrable increase of birth defects/congenital malformations was found among the later conceived children born to survivors of the nuclear weapons used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or found in the later conceived children of cancer survivors who had previously received radiotherapy. The surviving women of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that could conceive, who were exposed to substantial amounts of radiation, went on and had children with no higher incidence of abnormalities/birth defects than the rate which is observed in the Japanese average.
There is considerable discrimination in Japan against the hibakusha. It is frequently extended toward their children as well: socially as well as economically. "Not only hibakusha, but their children, are refused employment," says Mr. Kito. "There are many among them who do not want it known that they are hibakusha."— Studs Terkel (1984), The Good War.
The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (日本被団協 Nihon Hidankyō?) is a group formed by hibakusha in 1956 with the goals of pressuring the Japanese government to improve support of the victims and lobbying governments for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
- Hiroshima Maidens - 25 young women who had surgery in the US after the war
- Isao Harimoto - ethnic Korean baseball player born in Hiroshima
- Issey Miyake - clothing designer
- Joe Kieyoomia – an American Navajo prisoner of war who survived both the Bataan Death March and the Nagasaki bombing
- Keiji Nakazawa - author of Barefoot Gen
- Koko Kondo - notable peace activist and daughter of Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
- Sadako Sasaki - well known for her attempt to fold a thousand origami cranes in order to cure herself of leukemia
- Takashi Nagai - doctor and author of The Bells of Nagasaki
- Terumi Tanaka - activist with Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations
- Tsutomu Yamaguchi - the only person officially recognized to have survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings
- Shigeaki Mori - a historian of allied prisoners of war
- Sunao Tsuboi - teacher and activist with Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations
- Children of Hiroshima (1952 film)
- Black Rain (1965 novel)
- Barefoot Gen (1973 manga series)
- Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977 non-fiction children's book)
- No More Hiroshima (1984 documentary film)
- Hiroshima Witness (1986 documentary film)
- Black Rain (1989 Japanese film)
- Rhapsody in August (1991 Japanese film)
- Hiroshima (1995 film)
- Letters from the End of the World (2001 book)
- Hiroshima Diary (2005 novel)
- Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (2003 manga, 2007 novel and film)
- Hiroshima (2005 documentary/docudrama film)
- White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007 documentary film)
- Atomic Wounds (2008 documentary film)
- Boushi (2008 TV drama)
- Carl Randall (UK artist who met and painted portraits of Hibakusha in Hiroshima, 2006/09)
- Burnt Shadows (2009 novel shortlisted for the Orange Prize)
- Hibakusha (2012 animated short film)
- Hibakusha (2015 short story)
- Als die Sonne vom Himmel fiel (2015 documentary film by Japanese–Swiss filmmaker Aya Domenig)
- "Overseas Atomic Bomb Survivors Support Program". Atomic Bomb Survivors Affairs Division Health And Welfare Department Nagasaki prefectural Government. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
- "Nagasaki mayor urges world to use collective wisdom to abolish nuclear arms". The Japan Times. August 9, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-09.
- "Relief for A-bomb victims". The Japan Times. 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2007-10-02.[dead link]
- "30 A-bomb survivors apply for radiation illness benefits". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
- "Hiroshima marks 71st anniversary of city's atomic bombing". Yomiuri Shimbun. August 6, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-09.
- Okada, Shohei (August 9, 2016). "Nagasaki mayor tells world: Visit to see how nukes affect humans". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 2016-08-09.
- US diplomatic cable reporting the ruling
- My Life: Interview with former Hiroshima Mayor Takashi Hiraoka, Part 10, Chugoku Shimbun
- Mikiso Hane (2001). Modern Japan: A Historical Survey. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3756-9.
- Hibakusha: A Korean's fight to end discrimination toward foreign A-bomb victims, Mainichi Daily News. May 9, 2008.
- Wake, Naoko. "Japanese American Hibakusha," Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved Aug 5, 2014.
- "Nagasaki memorial adds British POW as A-bomb victim". The Japan Times. August 9, 1945. Retrieved Jan 9, 2009.
-  This reference also lists at least three other POWS who died on 9-8-1945
- "CWGC :: Casualty Details". Cwgc.org. Retrieved Jan 9, 2009.
- "CWGC :: Casualty Details". Cwgc.org. Retrieved Jan 9, 2009.
-  does not tell if these were Nagasaki casualties
- "Two Dutch POWs join Nagasaki bomb victim list". The Japan Times. August 9, 1945. Retrieved Jan 9, 2009.
- [dead link]
- It Gave Him Life—It Took It, Too United States Merchant Marine.org website
- "How Effective Was Navajo Code? One Former Captive Knows", News from Indian Country, August 1997.
- "Twice Bombed, Twice Survived: Film Explores Untold Stories from Hiroshima & Nagasaki". Columbia University. August 2, 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- Japan Confirms First Double A-Bomb Survivor
- "Man who survived two atom bombs dies". CNN. January 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
- Simons, Lewis M. (June 7, 1984). "Children of Hiroshima, Nagasaki survivors facing prejudice, discrimination in Japan". Ottawa Citizen. Knight-Rider News. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
- "Prejudice haunts atomic bomb survivors". Japan Times. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
- http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/78218/1/9789241505130_eng.pdf World Health Organization report. page 23 & 24 internal
- http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/268/5/661.short The Children of Atomic Bomb Survivors: A Genetic Study. 1992. No differences were found (in frequencies of birth defects, stillbirths, etc), thus allaying the immediate public concern that atomic radiation might spawn an epidemic of malformed children.
- Teratology in the Twentieth Century Plus Ten
- http://www.rerf.jp/radefx/genetics_e/birthdef.html (RERF)Radiation Effects Research Foundation. Formerly known as the (ABCC)Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.
- Terkel, Studs (1984). The Good War. Random House. p. 542.
- "Welcome to HIDANKYO". Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization (Nihon Hidankyo) website. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Hibakusha Portraits, The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London, 2012
- Carl Randall Bio, www.carlrandall.com, London, 2012
- Hibakusha, Eastlit, 2015
- Hiroshima's Walking Ghosts, Groove Magazine, Korea, p. 53, 2015
- Stefania Summermatter and Christian Raaflaub (2015-08-13). "Als die Sonne vom Himmel fiel: Hiroshima: "Wer nicht dabei war, wird es nie verstehen können"" (in German). swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
- Terkel, Studs, The Good War, Random House:New York, 1984. ISBN 0-394-53103-5
- Hersey, John, Hiroshima, A.A. Knopf: New York, 1985. ISBN 0-679-72103-7
- Nagasaki Archive
- White Light/Black Rain official website (film)
- Voices of the survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Voice of Hibakusha "Eye-witness accounts of the bombing of Hiroshima"
- Hibakusha, fifteen years after the bomb (CBC TV news report)
- Virtual Museum "Hibakusha testimonies, coupled with photographs, memoirs and paintings, give a human face to the tragedy of the A-bombing. Starting in 1986, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation initiated a project to record hibakusha giving testimonies on video. In each year since, the testimonies of 50 people have been recorded and edited into 20-minute segments per person"
- The Voice of Hibakusha
- Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission ABCC
- Radiation Effects Research Foundation website
- "Survival in Nagasaki."
- "Living with a double A-bomb surviving parent."
- "Fight against the A-bomb."
- "Contribute actively to peace."
- Hibakusha Testimonies - Online reprints of published sources including excerpts from the Japan Times.
- Hibakusha Stories "Initiative of Youth Arts New York in partnership with Peace Boat, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, and New York Theatre Workshop."
- A-Bomb Survivors: Women Speak Out for Peace - Online DVD Testimonies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Hibakusha with subtitles in 6 different languages.