Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors are working to ensure their message lives on after them. Terumi Tanaka, 88, was 13 when the bomb hit his hometown of Nagasaki. (Photo: Behrouz/Mehri/AFP via Getty Images)

After 75 Years, Last Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombings Says Nuclear Abolition Still 'Starting Point for Peace'

"Hell is probably like what we went through. It must never be allowed to happen again."

Lisa Newcomb

Jiro Hamasumi's mother was pregnant with him when the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killing tens of thousands instantly.

Today, at 74, Hamasumi is one of the remaining survivors of the attack pleading with world leaders to abolish nuclear arms.

"Hibakusha want the United States to apologize to us," Hamasumi told Agence France-Press this week. "But the proof of the apology is nuclear abolition, we're not after vengeance."

AFP estimates there are about 136,700 living survivors of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended the second World War in 1945.

For decades anti-nuclear activists have pointed to the destruction, devastation, and deadly consequences of the attacks as reason to rid the world of nuclear weapons. World leaders have continued to develop the technology, however, in spite of those pleas. 

"A nuclear weapons ban is the starting point for peace."
—Lee Jong-keun, 92, Hiroshima survivor

"We must work harder to get our voices heard, not just mine but those of many other survivors," Lee Jong-keun, a 92-year-old hibakusha, who after decades of hiding his past as a Hiroshima survivor has, since 2012, joined others in telling his story and appealing for abolition of nuclear arms, said in an interview with the Associated Press this week. "A nuclear weapons ban is the starting point for peace."

In 2019, Pope Francis, speaking at Hiroshima Peace Park, a memorial to the events located in Japan, called nuclear weapons "a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home."

"How," the pope asked, "can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war?"

President Donald Trump has instead forged ahead with plans for nuclear testing, even as Democratic lawmakers push for legislation that would prevent the Trump administration from restarting nuclear weapons testing.

But remaining survivors, whose numbers dwindle as they age, and activists continue their fight for a world free of nuclear weapons.

"I haven't been to Hell," Hiroshima survivor Teruko Ueno told BBC. "So I don't know what it's like, but Hell is probably like what we went through. It must never be allowed to happen again."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

World Leaders Must Commit to End Covid-19 Patents: Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

Decrying the "brutally unequal global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines," Yunus wrote that "there is still time for world leaders to say never again."

Andrea Germanos ·


Addressing Crisis 'Existentially Imperiling' Its People, Vanuatu Declares Climate Emergency

"We are in danger now, not just in the future," said Prime Minister Bob Loughman.

Andrea Germanos ·


'Grotesque': Disgust as Trump Reads Names of Uvalde Victims at NRA Convention

Former President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were among those pushing a "good guys with guns" theory that "utterly failed" the latest victims of a mass shooting.

Andrea Germanos ·


Wall Street-Funded Democrat PAC to Spend $1 Million in Bid to Unseat Tlaib: Report

"Imagine spending $1 million to oust Rashida Tlaib instead of organizing in Detroit to make sure Michigan goes blue," quipped one progressive group.

Brett Wilkins ·


Parents Demand Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 'For the Sake of the Children'

"We cannot remain silent as the fossil fuel industry and world leaders rob our children of a livable future," parents from 32 nations wrote in an open letter.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo