Tsutomu Yamaguchi, (March 16, 1916 – January 4, 2010) A nijyuu hibakusha — one who survived both atomic bombs.
We are in between anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So it’s fitting that we visit with a man who survived both.
August 6th, 1945, 29 year old Tsutomu Yamaguchi was an engineer working for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. That morning he was entering a streetcar on his way to a business meeting. It was supposed to take the whole summer but he was ready to leave. He rwlaized that he left his Hanto or travel pass behind and returned to his office to pick it up. He looked into the sky and saw a bomber and say a box floating down below it on a parachute.
The time? 10:30 AM. The town? Hiroshima, Japan. When Little Boy detonated, he was two miles from ground zero, and the streetcar itself partially shielded him from the blast. That said, it burned his clothes and left serious wounds on his upper torso. It also burst his eardrums and temporarily blinded him.
Yamaguchi spent two evenings in a bomb shelter in Hiroshima, and then headed back to hometown: Nagasaki, Japan.
He climbed stairs into his bosses office a day and a half later. He was describing the bombing when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he told reporters from the Independent. “I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima,” he said.
“I could have died on either of those days,” he told The Mainichi Daily News of Japan. “Everything that follows is a bonus.”
Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed 40,000 people instantly and then continued to kill with lethal radiation and cancers for decades to come. Both bombs were the first atomic weapons created after Los Alamos. They were, to this date, the only atomic weapons ever actually used.
Let’s us hope and pray that it stays this way. And that we are all as lucky as Mr. Yamaguchi.