Monday, August 8, 2011

Tsutomu Yamaguchi (山口彊)

Tsutomu Yamaguchi (山口彊)

When I read about Tsutomu Yamaguchi(やまぐち つとむ), I said to myself, my God he is so lucky, no one will survive with such experience. Despite he was featured in the BBC program dated December 17, 2010, as "The Unluckiest Man in the World.". Yamaguchi in fact is the luckiest man in the world to survive the two atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who even lived until the age of 93.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi (山口彊) (b 1916 – d 2010)

Tsutomu Yamaguchi (山口 彊) (b March 16, 1916 – d January 4, 2010), he was a Japanese national who survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during World War II. Although at least 160 people are known to have been affected by both bombings, he is the only person to have been officially recognized by the government of Japan as surviving both atomic explosions.

Yamaguchi was a resident of Nagasaki, he was in Hiroshima on business for his employer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries(長崎三菱造船) when the city was bombed at 8:15am on August 6, 1945. The following day on 7-8-1945 he returned to Nagasaki and, despite his wounds, returned to work on August 9, the day of the second atomic bombing. In 1957 he was recognized as a hibakusha (explosion-affected person) of the Nagasaki bombing, but it was not until March 24, 2009 that the government of Japan officially recognized his presence in Hiroshima three days earlier. He died of stomach cancer on January 4, 2010, dying at the age of 93, a long life indeed.

With such intensive exposure of radiation, he still lived until the age of 93, a miracle, and a very blessed man. Yamaguchi lost hearing in his left ear as a result of the Hiroshima explosion. He also went bald temporarily and his daughter recalls that he was constantly swathed in bandages until she reached the age of 12. Despite this, Yamaguchi went on to lead a healthy life. However, late in his life he began to suffer from radiation-related ailments including cataracts and acute leukemia. How the radiation related ailments only manifested at advance age, merit a study, and he must be more luckier than the BBC personnel’s who may not survived longer than him…….

Types of radiation released from atomic bombs

The energy released from a nuclear weapon detonated in the troposphere can be divided into four basic categories:
* Blast—40-50% of total energy
* Thermal radiation—30-50% of total energy
* Ionizing radiation—5% of total energy (more in a neutron bomb)
* Residual radiation—5-10% of total energy

The medical effects of a nuclear blast

The medical effects of a nuclear blast upon humans can be put into four categories:
•Initial stage -- the first 1–2 weeks, in which are the greatest number of deaths, with 90% due to thermal injury and/or blast effects and 10% due to super-lethal radiation exposure
•Intermediate stage -- from 3–8 weeks. The deaths in this period are from ionization radiation in the median lethal range
•Late period -- lasting from 8–20 weeks. This period has some improvement in survivors' condition.
•Delayed period -- from 20+ weeks. Characterized by “numerous complications, mostly related to healing of thermal and mechanical injuries coupled with infertility, sub-fertility and blood disorders caused by radiation.” Also, ionizing radiation from fallout can cause genetic effects, birth defects, cancer, cataracts and other effects in organs and tissue.

Before the war

Tsutomu Yamaguchi worked as a draftsman designing oil tankers, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries at Mitsubishi Dock Yard Nagasaki(三菱重工業長崎造船所, ながさきぞうせんじょ)since the 1930s. The actual name of the dockyard was Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard(三菱重工業株式会社長崎造船所).

In 1942, the battleship, "Musashi"(1942-1944)was completed by Mitsubishi Dock Yard Nagasaki, for the Japanese Imperial Navy in the shipyard at Nagasaki. Musashi (武蔵), named after the ancient Japanese Musashi Province, was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and flagship of the Japanese Combined Fleet. She was the second ship of the Yamato-class. She and her sister ship, Yamato, were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed displacing 72,800 long tons (74,000 t) fully loaded, and armed with nine 46 cm (18.1 in) main guns. Constructed of Musashi was from 1938–1941 and formally commissioned in the summer of 1942, Musashi served as the flagship of Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto and Mineichi Koga in 1943. Throughout 1943, Musashi remained within the naval bases at Truk Lagoon, Kure, and Brunei, transferring between them several times in response to American air strikes on Japanese island bases. Musashi was sunk on 24 October 1944 by American carrier aircraft during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

So Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard was linked to Imperial Japanese Navy as military ship builder. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was on the mission to Hiroshima, possibly linked to military ship building during the war.

Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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 realized he had forgotten his hanko, and returned to his workplace to get it. At 8:15 he was walking back towards the docks when the American bomber Enola Gay dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb 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 an air-raid shelter 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.

At 11 am on August 9, Yamaguchi was describing the blast in Hiroshima to his supervisor, when the American bomber Bockscar dropped the Fat Man 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 treatment for his now ruined bandages, and suffered from a high fever for over a week.

After the war

After the war, he worked as a translator for the occupying American forces and then became a schoolmaster before he later returned to work for Mitsubishi.

He becomes a vocal proponent of nuclear disarmament in his later life. He said "The reason that I hate the atomic bomb is because of what it does to the dignity of human beings." Speaking through his daughter during a telephone interview he said, "I can't understand why the world cannot understand the agony of the nuclear bombs. How can they keep developing these weapons?”.

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. 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. In his eighties, he wrote a book about his experiences (Ikasareteiru inochi, 生かされている命) and was invited to take part in a 2006 documentary about 165 double A-bomb survivors (known as nijū hibakusha in Japan) called Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki(二重被爆), which was screened at the United Nations.

At the screening he pleaded for the abolition of atomic weapons

nijū hibakusha「二重被爆者」(Double Atomic Bombs survival)

At first Yamaguchi did not feel the need to draw attention to his double survivor status. However as he aged he felt that his survival was destiny and so in January 2009 he applied for double recognition. This was accepted by the Japanese government in March 2009, making Yamaguchi the only person officially recognised as a survivor of both bombings. Speaking about the recognition Yamaguchi said, "My double radiation exposure is now an official government record. It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die."
In 2009, Yamaguchi learned that he was dying of stomach cancer. He died on January 4, 2010 in Nagasaki at the age of 93. He had victory over the radiation threat from double atomic bombing, and lived along life. He is a brave man....

(source: extract from wikipedia with some modification)

We remember Tsutomu Yamaguchi (山口彊), and pray that there will not be any nuclear plant, and nuclear bombs. From the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, it revealed that the work of Tsutomu Yamaguchi (山口彊) is still a strong message to the world on the danger of radiation.

His message becomes clearer.

No comments:

Post a Comment