On 4 January 2009, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, one of the few people to have experienced the Atomic bomb both in Hiroshima and Nagasaki died of stomach cancer.
August 6, 1945 was his last day of work in Hiroshima and was he was about to board the tram heading to his hometown when the first atomic bomb detonated 3 kilometers away from where he was. The fallout severely burned the left side of the top half of his body, destroyed his eardrums and blinded him temporarily. He spent the night recuperating in an air raid shelter before returning the next day to his hometown, Nagasaki. As he was telling the tales of the horrors he had seen in Hiroshima, another atomic bomb was dropped in Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. We was also 3 kilometers away from the epicenter.
He has since been an eloquent critic of nuclear weapons. About his his survival and advocacy, he had this to say to The Times, “I think it is a miracle, but having been granted this miracle it is my responsibility to pass on the truth to the people of the world. For the past 60 years survivors have declared the horror of the atomic bomb, but I can see hardly any improvement in the situation.”
One of his last visitors was director James Cameroon who expressed interest in making a film on the two bombs.
The mayor and citizens of Nagasaki has been active against nuclear proliferation, and in fact challeneged Obama to visit the bomb’s epicenter in Nagasaki during his official trip to Japan after the latter boldly declared his plans for a nuclear free world. Obama made no such visit.
*Asawa took me to Nagasaki and visiting it 65 years after the bomb still gives chills to first time visitors. The bomb museum is a must-see in Nagasaki because of its compelling photos and testimonies to the tragedy. Nagasaki has since recovered itself and is now a proud city (even attempting to bid for the Olympics) but it is still made up of people who believe in the importance of not forgetting those fateful days.