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Saturday, April 14, 2012

hard to believe: he did it twice

In the August of 1945, two atomic bombs were dropped in Japan August 6th in Hiroshima, 9th in Nagasaki. The total of 210,000 were killed. There were victims who were effected by both of the bombings. 

Remarkably, a group of perhaps 200 Japanese were present for both atomic bombings. 
However, he also suffered through the deaths of his wife and son from the after-effects of the bombings.
Yamaguchi (Guardian news), who is the only hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) to be recognized by the Japanese Government for having suffered through both bombings, testified before the United Nations to advocate against the use of nuclear arms or even nuclear power. "The bottom line is, there shouldn't be nuclear in our world," he stated.
He also explained that his motto is "One for All, All for One" and felt he had done his duty when he extracted a commitment from famed movie director James Cameron to create a feature film about the atomic bomb survivors.

  Early life
Yamaguchi "never thought Japan should start a war". He continued his work with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. As the war ground on, so despondent was he over the state of the country that he considered killing his family with an overdose of sleeping pills in the event that Japan lost.

   Hiroshima bombing
Yamaguchi lived and worked in Nagasaki, but in the summer of 1945 he went to Hiroshima for a three month business trip. On August 6, he was preparing to leave the city with two colleagues, Akira Iwanaga and Kuniyoshi Sato, and was on his way to the station when he realised he had forgotten soothing, and returned to his workplace to get it. At 8:15, he was walking back towards the docks when the Americans dropped the first atomic bomb to citizens ever near the centre of the city, only 3 km away. Yamaguchi recalls seeing the bomber and two small parachutes, before there was "a great flash in the sky, and I was blown over". The explosion ruptured his eardrums, blinded him temporarily, and left him with serious burns over the left side of the top half of his body. After recovering, he crawled to a shelter, and having rested, he set out to find his colleagues. They had also survived and together they spent the night in a refuge before returning to Nagasaki the following day. In Nagasaki, he received treatment for his wounds, and despite being heavily bandaged, he reported for work on August 9.

   Nagasaki bombing
At 11 am on August 9, Yamaguchi was describing the blast in Hiroshima to his supervisor, when the American bomber  dropped another  atomic bomb onto Nagasaki. His workplace again put him 3 km from ground zero, but this time, he was unhurt by the explosion.However, he was unable to seek replacement for his now ruined bandages, and he suffered from a high fever for over a week.

   Later life
After the war, Yamaguchi worked as a translator for the occupying American forces and then became a schoolmaster. When the Japanese government officially recognized atomic bombing survivors as hibakusha in 1957, Yamaguchi's identification stated only that he had been present at Nagasaki. It entitled him and other 260,000 survivors to monthly allowances, free medical dheckups and funeral expenses.
Yamaguchi was content with this, satisfied that he was relatively healthy, and put the experiences behind him.As he grew older, his opinions about the use of atomic weapons began to change.


Tsutomu Yamaguchi is one of those 200 or so people who were bombed twice, and survived twice. His hope towards the abolition of nuclear bombs brought 90-year-old Yamaguchi to make his appearance on this film. Along with Yamaguchi, seven other twice-bombed twice-survived people talk about their experience.

August 6th and August 9th are days to contemplate the awful possibilities of mankind, and resolve ourselves to do better.  Pandora's box of horrors was smashed on these days, and again many times in our gruesome history of war this last century

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