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[cdn-nucl-l] SURVIVOR OF A-BOMB PRESSES FOR BENEFITS
He seems is remarkably health, considering what he endured.
What do you think?
Chicago Tribune | Nation World
SURVIVOR OF A-BOMB PRESSES FOR BENEFITS
NAGASAKI MAN SAYS JAPAN RESPONSIBLE FOR MEDICAL BILLS
By Uli Schmetzer
Tribune Foreign Correspondent
March 2, 2001
NAGASAKI, Japan -- Fifty-six years after an atomic bomb nicknamed "Fat Man"
blasted him off his bicycle and destroyed his city, retired mail carrier
Sumiteru Taniguchi is still fighting for compensation.
The thin, somber man does not want money to assuage the pain or the
permanent scars he suffered in the atomic explosion. He only wants the
Japanese government to pay all of the medical expenses he and other
survivors may incur before they die.
"The United States dropped the bomb, but the Japanese government was
responsible for making others use nuclear weapons. Our government takes care
of former servicemen, but it doesn't take care of us," Taniguchi said.
The "us" he was referring to are the 297,000 survivors of the Hiroshima and
Nagasaki atomic bombs that were dropped Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945. Many of
these survivors are still inching their way through Japan's bureaucratic
labyrinth for certification that their medical costs are the direct result
of injuries sustained in the bombings.
Taniguchi, 72, has become a role model for many Japanese. Not only did he
survive the devastation of Nagasaki, he is also living proof of the horrors
of nuclear war.
A photograph taken shortly after the blast shows Taniguchi, then 16, with
the skin of his back, arms and buttocks burned away. His image has become a
gruesome warning of the consequences of a nuclear exchange between nations.
Many people are surprised Taniguchi is still alive.
More amazing, Taniguchi has been a heavy smoker since he was 19. "If I die
from lung cancer the government will be finally able to say, `You see, it
had nothing to do with the bomb,'" he said with a grin.
He walks ramrod straight, but his back and buttocks are covered with a
skinless web of bumps, blisters and scars.
At 11:02 a.m. on Aug. 9, 1945, Taniguchi was delivering mail on his bicycle.
He was about a mile from Ground Zero when Fat Man exploded 1,500 feet above
Urakami, a suburb of Nagasaki.
According to U.S. records, the primary target had been the industrial city
of Kokura, but visibility was poor because of thick cloud cover. The crew of
the B-29 flew on to their secondary target, the Mitsubishi shipyards at
Clouds also obscured Nagasaki, but a break in the cloud cover suddenly
appeared and the crew spotted the Mitsubishi Armament Works at Urakami and
released Fat Man.
The blast flattened Urakami and much of Nagasaki. The intense heat of the
fireball melted glass and bricks; some of the effects are still visible
The blast caught Taniguchi in the back. The force sent him flying off his
bike. When he picked himself up moments later, dazed, his ears ringing, the
urban world around him had been flattened. The only things he saw were dust
"I remember a flash of light and a big bang. The ground was shaking for a
long time. Later I walked 200 yards uphill. Then I collapsed. I was so weak,
but I felt no pain. I saw many bodies, but couldn't tell if they were men or
women. People were dying in the street. It was all so unreal. At that time
my skin had still not come off," he recalled.
According to government statistics, 150,000 people died in Nagasaki, half of
them instantly, the rest from radiation poisoning. Within 1.3 miles of the
epicenter, everyone suffered severe burns.
"Someone finally took me home to my grandfather. Weeks later the skin peeled
off, leaving just flesh. The skin has never grown back. There was no
hospital, no medication and we didn't know what to do. So grandfather dabbed
cooking oil on the burns.
"People said the bomb had been poisoned. We boiled dried persimmon leaves
for a long time and drank the liquid. We also drank vinegar to get rid of
the poison," he recalled.
Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, and Taniguchi spent the next 21 months
on his stomach and another 30 months in hospitals.
A U.S. Army photographer, part of a fact-finding mission to gauge the
results of the atomic blast, took Taniguchi's photo in a makeshift shelter
for the injured.
Few people outside Japan were aware that the thin teenage boy with the
horrible burns to his back was alive and struggling to lead a near-normal
When he was sufficiently recovered, Taniguchi went back to his job as a mail
carrier. When he turned 24, his family and friends helped him find a partner
for an arranged marriage.
"It was difficult for me to find a wife. My wife never saw me before the
wedding and was not told about my injuries," he said.
"She cried a lot on our honeymoon. It wasn't the scars so much that
frightened her, but fear how long I would survive. People were dying all the
time from the aftereffects of the bomb in those days," he said.
But he survived. The couple had a son and a daughter. Today, Taniguchi is a
grandfather. Neither his children nor his grandchildren have any genetic
Since he retired six years ago, Taniguchi has dedicated his life to the
battle for justice for all survivors and a global movement for a
Much of his efforts are directed against a government he accuses of having
delayed medical compensation for decades. For the last survivors the issue
has become urgent: Most of them are old-age pensioners like Taniguchi and
cannot afford their own medical expenses.
"Some Japanese people argue we should pressure the United States for money.
Personally, I feel even if we receive more money, those who lost their lives
will not return. But rather it is our duty to let people know what happens
when you use nuclear weapons," he said.
----- Original Message -----
From: Muckerheide <email@example.com>
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Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2001 8:00 AM
Subject: Chicago Tribune | Nation World -- SURVIVOR OF A-BOMB PRESSES
> Regards, Jim