hibakusha [commonly used?]


Senior Member
I saw this article on Japan Times: Younger hibakusha and offspring seen taking reins of nuclear abolition drive

Younger hibakusha and offspring seen taking reins of nuclear abolition drive | The Japan Times

"Hibakusha" is originally a Japanese word which means a survivor of an atom-bombing, so I was a bit surprised to see it being used without an explanation of the meaning in an Engish article.

My questions is: Is the word commonly used? I mean, do ordinary native English speakers know the meaning?
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It is unlikely that they would understand the word unless they lived in Japan or were familiar with the topic.

    In other words, I would expect to see it inside quotes ("hibakusha") in printed matter outside Japan.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Before clicking in, I tried to remember whether it was atomic bom victims, untouchables, or a kind of barbecue: we have borrowed Japanese words for all three, but they are not common, and most people wouldn't know them. However, I wouldn't be surprised at the Japan Times assuming knowledge of them.


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I've never heard it either. In the USA we have a term, "Downwinders" for people who were inadvertently exposed to radiation:

    Downwinders - Wikipedia

    Downwinders refers to the individuals and communities in the intermountain area between the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges primarily in Arizona, Nevada and Utah but also in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho who were exposed to radioactive contamination or nuclear fallout from atmospheric or underground nuclear weapons testing, and nuclear accidents.[1][2]


    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    I have never come across the word, however I don't read the Japan Times. It may be that it is commonly used there. People who live in Japan or are interested in the country may not find this a problem.


    Senior Member
    Okay, so... the term is used here only because the readers of the Japan Times are expected to know it.
    Thank you, everyone! :)


    Senior Member
    English - American
    I am familiar with the word, and knew the meaning immediately on seeing this thread. However, I've also read extensively on the history, technology, and use of nuclear weapons, so I suspect my perspective is by no means typical.

    If it's being treated as a foreign loanword that's new to the reader, I personally would put it in italics, not quotation marks.
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