On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, the US dropped a second atomic bomb, known as Fat Man, on Nagasaki, Japan. By the end of 1945, more than 200,000 people died as a direct result of these bombings. Many thousands of people survived with injuries from the attacks. They came to be known as hibakusha, which translates to bomb-affected-people. Niju hibakusha, double survivors, applies to more than 160 people who were present at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Currently, over 525,000 hibakusha have died and are named in memorials—more than 330,000 from Hiroshima and more than 190,000 from Nagasaki.
Hibakusha receive support from the Japanese government, including a medical allowance. However, in Japan there continues to be discrimination against both the hibakusha and their children, and even grandchildren, based on the common belief that they may be physically or psychologically weakened and that radiation effects are hereditary or contagious. Many hibakusha do not want their status to be known, as it can impact them regarding employment or marriage.
Listen to the interviews of the survivors through the in the “Voices of Japan” in Voices of Manhattan Project archive. Read the articles below to learn more about hibakusha and their experiences of surviving the atomic bombings of Japan in 1945.
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Last updated: January 11, 2023