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Hiroshima, Aug 4, 2011: The Soka Gakkai Chugoku Student Peace Committee released on August 4 the results of its 16th annual survey on young people's attitudes to peace and nuclear weapons in the Hiroshima region, in advance of the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. For the first time, two questions related to nuclear power were included.
The survey was conducted between May 16 and July 3 amongst students from 36 universities in the Chugoku region comprising Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori and Yamaguchi prefectures. A total of 2,324 responses were collected from 3,000 distributed questionnaires. 1,291 of respondents were male and 1,033 female.
In this year's results, shown in summary here, it was striking that for the first time less than half of the students (47%) responded that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was "unacceptable"; 56% of female respondents and just 41% of males. (Q.2) This is 6% less than the 2010 result. 13% responded that it was to some extent justifiable, and 38% had no clear view. However, 69% stated the existence of nuclear weapons is itself unacceptable; 77% of female respondents and 62% of males. (Q.3)
Asked whether there is a possibility that nuclear weapons will be used in war or conflict in the future, 86% answered that this was either a possibility (66%) or was bound to happen (20%). (Q.4) The figure of 86% marks a 9% increase from last year's results.
To the question "What do you think we should do with Japan's nuclear power plants?" (Q.6), 49% responded "we should continue as we are," 32% replied "we should reduce nuclear power," and 13% said "we should eliminate nuclear power." 5% felt that nuclear power should be increased. Just over half of the students interviewed think Japan's dependence on nuclear energy should not be decreased.
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When asked whether it is possible to abolish nuclear weapons, only 11% indicated that they believed it possible. 58% indicated that while abolition is impossible, stopping proliferation is possible.
Concerning taking action to promote peace, 75% said they want to contribute but do not know what to do (83% of female respondents against 68% of males). Overall, 13% responded that there is no point in taking action; 18% among males and 7% among females. (Q.8)
Hideaki Tatekuwa, chair of the Chugoku Student Peace Committee, commented, "This year's results show a continued decline in awareness and in the levels of hope that nuclear abolition can be achieved. This result will spur us to increase our efforts to raise awareness of the hideous nature of nuclear weapons."
On August 6 itself, commemorative prayers will be offered at the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall, followed by a lecture by two survivors of the atomic bombing hosted by the Women's Peace Committee.
The Soka Gakkai is a lay Buddhist association with over 8 million member households in Japan. The organization has been working toward abolition of nuclear weapons for over 50 years, and in 2007 the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) network around the world launched a grassroots awareness campaign, "The People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition." See http://www.peoplesdecade.org/
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