Tsutomu Yamaguchi: ‘Only Breast-Feeding Mothers Should Be Allowed to Control Countries That Have Nuclear Weapons’

Tsutomu Yamaguchi
Tsutomu Yamaguchi

As weird as it may seem, there were actually 165 people who got blasted twice when the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August, 1945.

A new book by Charles Pellegrino, The Last Train from Hiroshima, tells their remarkable stories. (Dwight Garner gives an excellent review of Pelligrino’s book in the Jan. 19 New York Times)

One of those survivors, Tsutomu Yamaguchi died just a few weeks ago. His obituary and his recollection of his experiences should be read as modern “texts of terror” and studied along side the Prophet Isaiah.

One of Yamaguchi’s conclusions in his long work against nuclear weapons was that the only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers who are still breast-feeding their babies. An excerpt from his obit is below:

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only official survivor of both atomic blasts to hit Japan in World War II, died Monday in Nagasaki, Japan. He was 93. The cause was stomach cancer, his family said.

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was in Hiroshima on a business trip when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the so-called Little Boy device detonated above the city.

Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than two miles away from ground zero that day. His eardrums were ruptured, and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to Nagasaki, his hometown, the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with the British newspaper The Independent.

“I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima,” he said.

Read Yamaguchi’s whole obituary here. Also read Yamaguchi’s first-person account How I survived Hiroshima–and then Nagasaki by David McNeill.

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