The world’s first atomic bombs exploded over the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than seventy years ago. Since then, the survivors (hibakusha) have campaigned for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Naturally, they welcomed the 2009 speech by former US President Barack Obama in Prague, calling for ‘a world without nuclear weapons’ and the resultant worldwide upsurge of public interest in denuclearization efforts. Eight years later, however, nuclear proliferation still continues. Do hibakusha think a nuclear-free world is achievable? Have their views shifted over time? How have they responded to the changing global and domestic landscapes on nuclear issues?
These questions were explored using data from the annual surveys on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Institute for Peace Science at Hiroshima University (IPSHU) between 2009 and 2016. Contextualized analyses of the survey results revealed that 1) half of the hibakusha are pessimistic about achieving total abolition during their lifetimes, 2) their views tended to change with the shifting domestic and international, and social and political, climate concerning nuclear issues, and 3) nevertheless, they have continued to advocate a ‘world without nuclear weapons’ with the unwavering conviction that sharing their experience may bring about change.