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Hibakusha-atomic bombs survivors in Japan: Survivors’ issues in human rights, government recognition and social segregation

Sociology International Journal
<font face="Arial, Verdana"><span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Kimiko Ichikawa&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></font>

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In 1945, the US detonated two nuclear weapons over Japan, which led to the end of WWII. These atomic bombs killed approximately 214,000 people (140,000 in Hiroshima, 74,000 in Nagasaki) and left many surviving victims. However, many of these survivors have been exposed to additional matters of life and death in this aftermath of atrocity, not only struggling with their health, but also being segregated and having their human rights disregarded even until present day. They have become minorities—being given the social status of ‘Hibakusha’ (literally translated as explosion-affected people) and they didn’t have an opportunity to present their voice and/or obtain their human rights. Hibakusha is considered a single minority group—of Japanese citizens. However, there are other categories of Hibakusha: Korean, American, and other nationalities. The laws governing Hibakusha are aimed primarily toward the Japanese group. The other Hibakusha are treated more as a lower class such as a cast, and they were mostly ignored right after the bombings and during the aftermath. The Koreans were the least recognized intentionally because they have been basically brought over to Japan as slave labor. Whereas the Americans were in a unique situation as they represented both the Japanese and the enemy country, America. The detonation of atomic bombs was an act of war, which is defined as an atrocity. The creation of Hibakusha was a political consequence resulting from the atomic bombs. Without these political memories, the situation of the remaining Hibakusha will not be improved. Because of politics, Hibakusha exists. Because of the political memories of the war, Japanese and other governments are finally being forced to recognize these groups of minorities, and mend the current climate of segregation, biases, and financial disparities. This paper introduces the status quo of Hibakusha post-WWII to the present, classism within the Hibakusha community, and biases against atomic bomb survivors. This panel articulates how each group of Hibakusha experienced different types of marginalization and suffered throughout the century. It demonstrates anti-government activist groups and secular organizations united for Hibakusha to obtain their human rights, and how Hibakusha have been fighting for legitimacy and justice against the Japanese government.


hibakusha atomic bombs, survivors after the bombings, poverty suffered by hibakusha in Japanese society