Watch CBS News

CBS News poll: What do Americans think of the 1945 use of the atomic bomb?

Video shot by the U.S. military in 1945 shows Hiroshima after it was hit with an atomic bomb
Rare video shows Hiroshima after atomic bomb 00:29

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto

With President Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima Friday, Americans are divided on whether or not they approve of the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 near the end of World War II. The U.S. dropped the bombs to try to avoid what would have been a bloody ground assault on the Japanese mainland, following the fierce battle for Japan's southernmost Okinawan islands, which took 12,520 American lives and an estimated 200,000 Japanese, about half civilians.

Forty-three percent of Americans say they approve of the use of the atomic bomb on Japanese cities in 1945, while 44 percent disapprove.

Approval has dropped markedly: in July 2005 Gallup recorded that a majority of Americans approved of the U.S.'s actions in using the atomic bomb against Japan.


Americans are divided by gender, race, political affiliation, and age. Most white Americans, most men, and most Republicans approve of the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Japan in World War II, while more non-white Americans, most women, and most Democrats disapprove.

Americans under 45 are more likely to disapprove of the U.S.'s actions, while older Americans 55 and up tend to approve.


This poll was conducted by telephone May 13-17, 2016 among a random sample of 1,014 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers.

The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.