Long after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaski, survivors have suffered social and psychological damage in addition to the physical injuries and some of the problems are still apparent today, according to a major survey published this week.
The study details mental problems, broken marriages, retarded children, joblessness and other calamaties afflicting the surviving victims and concludes that these long-lasting effects differ from the results of conventional war.
"The damages of conventional war are generally temporary of one-time affairs," the book states. "A-bomb damages continue indefinitely."
The survey, first published in Japanese in 1979, has been translated into english for the first time and issued on the 36th anniversaries of the U.S. bombings.
Entitled "Hiroshima and Nagaski: The Physical, Medical and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings," it is largely a compilation of scores of studies that have been made since the two bombs were dropped on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, respectively. The survey was originally commissioned by the two cities with the avowed purpose of promoting opposition to nuclear weapons.
"The severity of this shock, along with other disabling conditions, has robbed the victims of their psychological equilibrium," the compliers of the volume state. "Indeed, the psychological damage was so great that it may be said that they were deprived of their 'humanity.'"
Statistical comparisons showed that victims had higher rates of joblessness than other Japanese and were more apt to be laid off work, either because of physical infirmities or mental troubles. On the average, they earned incomes equal to about 90 percent of other Japanese.
The survey suggests that women tended to suffer more than men, both in the initial blasts and in long-range effects. In Hiroshima, most of the men were wage-earners who had gone to the suburban factories on the morning the bomb exploded over the center of the city.
Women also suffered mental and marital calamaties after giving birth to disfigured or retarded children or because of their fears they would do so. There were many cases of microcephaly, in which children were bonr with abnormally small heads.
One woman suffered two miscarriages and was by her husband, who concluded she was not fit to bear children.
Many also lived with what is called the "taint of death," the lasting fear that the bombs' latent impact will suddenly kill them.
Although largely statistical and analytical, the survey cites many of the case histories collected by investigators to show the types of mental anguish suffered by survivors.
Yukiko Ota, a Nagasaki housewife when the bomb struck, wondered for years afterward if she would die from lingering effects like many of her friends. She had ben pregnant at the time and gave birth to a retarded child, who cuold not keep up with classmates and was shifted to a special school.
At 19, the boy got his first job, but he could not perform the work of lifting concrete blocks because his hands could not grip them properly.
About 370,000 Japanese living today survived the blast or the readiation that lingered and spread in a "black rain" outside the cities.Japanese officials estimate that 200,000 people were killed by the blasts.
A mojor reason for the psychological shock was the totality of the destruction and the absence of serveral days after the blasts of the help a community can offer victims even in normal wartime, the book asserts.
Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were equipped with first-aid stations, refuge shelters, evacuation plans, stored food and clothing and emergency hospitals.
"The A-bomb damages, however, far exceeded all levels of preparedness," the compilers state. "As both cities were almost totally destroyed, all these agencies were rendered virtually useless." Survivors huddled in burned-out buildings and watched as friends and family members died without assistance, and experience that heightened the psychological shock.