Sumiteru Taniguchi, survivor of the 1945 atomic bomb attack on his hometown of Nagasaki, and who devoted his life fighting for abolishing nuclear weapons, recently died of cancer, reports a news site.
Taniguchi was 16 and was on the job delivering mail, when a US atomic bomb was dropped on the city (on Aug. 9, 1945). The blast 1.1 miles away threw him from his bicycle, almost killing him.
Taniguchi could only lie on his stomach for nearly two years as he was treated for the burns that exposed flesh and bones.
In his video message in July, Taniguchi welcomed the UN nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, but expressed concerns about the declining population of the survivors. “I wonder what the world will be like when it loses the last atomic bombing survivor.”
Hibakusha is the Japanese word used for the surviving victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It means “explosion-affected people” and is used, often derogatorily, to refer to people who were exposed to radiation from the bombings.
The Man Who Survived Both the Atom Bombs
Tsutomu Yamaguchi was the only man recognized as a survivor of both atom bombs dropped in Japan at the end of World War II, reports CNN.
On the day, the U.S. B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Yamaguchi was in the city on a business trip for his employer, Mitsubishi Shipyard.
“As I was walking along, I heard the sound of a plane, just one. I looked up into they sky and saw the B-29, and it dropped two parachutes. I was looking up into the sky at them, and suddenly … it was like a flash of magnesium, a great flash in the sky, and I was blown over.”
A badly burned Yamaguchi returned home to Nagasaki, only to experience horror again.
“My double radiation exposure is now an official government record,” said Yamaguchi.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) March 16, 2016
Yamaguchi lost his hearing in his left ear in the blasts, and suffered from acute leukemia, cataracts and other bomb-related illnesses in subsequent years.
Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron met Yamaguchi to discuss ideas for a film about nuclear weapons, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi reported. Cameron met a few survivors and was accompanied by Charles Pellegrino, who has written a new book about the atrocities called The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back. As reported on Variety, James Cameron has bought the film rights of the book and could be eyeing it as a potential directorial project for himself.
About 140,000 people perished in Hiroshima and an additional 70,000 in Nagasaki.
“Today, nuclear powers such as the US and Russia own stockpiles of well over 15,000 nuclear weapons. These bombs are much more powerful, and can deliver a blast over 1,000 times that of the Hiroshima bombing.