Poll shows Americans, for first time, divided on use of A-Bombs in 1945

By GREG MITCHELL*

NEW YORK (24 July 2005) -- As the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan approach in two weeks, one major poll shows that Americans, in a historical switch, now appear about equally divided on the decision to use the bomb.

Polling by the Associated Press, announced today, found that 24 per cent of Americans "strongly approve" dropping the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and another 24 per cent "somewhat approve." But 23 per cent "somewhat disapprove" and 24 per cent "strongly disapprove." Another 6 per cent are not sure.

Polls in past years have generally shown strong majority support for the use of the bomb, although the "pro" count has slowly subsided over the years.

The poll of 1,000 adults in the United States was conducted for the AP by Ipsos, an international polling company, from July 5-10. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The polling, and a separate survey in Japan carried out by Kyodo, also found that more Americans than Japanese expect another world war in their lifetime. Most people in both countries believe the first use of a nuclear weapon is never justified, although nearly half of the Americans obviously make an exception for the 1945 examples, which killed at least 200,000, the vast majority of them civilians.

Japan surrendered within days of the use of the atomic weapons, but historians differ on whether that country would have given up, in the same time frame, even if the bombs had not been used, due to the Russians' entry into the war against them and other factors.

*Greg Mitchell (letters@editorandpublisher.com) is editor of E&P and co-author, with Robert Jay Lifton, of "Hiroshima in America."

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