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[cdn-nucl-l] It was a blast! Fw: 50 years later - Lucky Dragon

I'll send this again in plain text for those who have problems receiving Rich HTML.
Looking at the photo, Mr Oishi seems to be in reasonable shape.  I wonder how old he is?  Could be in his 70s.
Bikini test survivors still living with blast
Fukuryu Maru crew victimized by nuclear fallout, then treated as pariahs

Staff writer

A bright light shatters the darkness over the predawn Pacific. The light envelops the entire sea and changes from yellow to orange, purplish orange to red.

News photo
Matashichi Oishi, one of the crew members of the Fukuryu Maru No. 5, speaks at his Tokyo business. NAO SHIMOYACHI PHOTO

Eardrum-shattering rumbling follows and shakes the planet. Hours later, white ash begins to fall.

"I kept wondering, 'What is going on, what is going on,' " says Matashichi Oishi, recalling what happened 50 years ago. "But I couldn't come up with an answer. I had very little knowledge about nuclear bombs then."

Oishi's memory of that day, March 1, 1954, has not faded. He was on a wooden tuna trawler along with 22 other Japanese fishermen at a location believed to be 160 km east of Bikini Atoll when the United States denoted a hydrogen bomb.

The bomb, code-named Bravo, was the biggest nuclear device ever tested by the U.S.

The blast, 1,000 times more powerful than those that laid waste to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, took place as the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in a fierce nuclear arms race early in the Cold War.

Five decades later, Oishi, who now runs a laundry in Tokyo, keeps himself busy giving lectures at schools and other venues by request.

"I feel obliged to talk about the incident for the sake of my dead fellows," he says.

Of the 23 crew members of the Fukuryu Maru No. 5 tuna trawler, known in English as the Lucky Dragon, only 11 are still living.

All 23 suffered or are suffering from health problems believed to have been caused by radiation and the contaminated blood they received during treatment.

While the Bikini incident had a huge impact on the global stage -- it showed the world the power and terror of a hydrogen bomb and triggered large-scale antinuclear movements -- the Fukuryu Maru's crew remained silent for decades.

They were puzzled by the intense media attention that followed their return to Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, a leading deep-sea fishing port.

The media reported their every move, and they were all hospitalized for "acute radiation sickness."

Fear of nuclear contamination sent the nation into a panic and led to the dumping of tons of tuna caught in the affected area of the Pacific, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of yen for the fishing industry.

"We knew we caused tremendous inconvenience," says Yoshio Misaki, the former chief fisherman of the Fukuryu Maru. "We felt we had no right to talk."

Fear of social discrimination against people exposed to radiation also discouraged them from coming out as survivors of the Bikini incident, according to Oishi.

Many of the crew, including Oishi and Misaki, had to quit as fishermen due to health problems and later tried to hide their nuclear experience so they could hold on to jobs, Oishi says.

"Even though we share the same feelings, many of us do not open our mouths."

Oishi left Yaizu for Tokyo in 1955 to start a new, quiet life. He began making public appearances in the 1980s after being asked to give a lecture by a junior high school student.

In Yaizu, Misaki has also been telling his own story in recent years, wishing to correct what he says are false images of the Fukuryu Maru's crew.

"Fishermen are very neat and strong people," he said, referring to the fact that they must work as a team over long periods, often in harsh conditions, including typhoons.

Misaki said he was shocked by some of the media reports, such as one that said the Fukuryu Maru crew members, while "tainted with death ash," were carousing in the city.

The situation surrounding nuclear weapons has changed in the last 50 years, but the threat of nuclear weapons still exists.

While there is no longer large-scale atmospheric testing like the Bravo blast, suspicions of nuclear programs in North Korea, Iran and other nations make daily headlines.

A U.S. plan to study the possibility of a new generation of "low-yield" nuclear weapons is feared by many observers as the beginning of a new era, in which nuclear bombs would no longer be just a deterrent and their battlefield use would become more likely.

"What makes me angry is we have suffered so much, but nuclear weapons are still there with improved quality," Oishi said. "Because people did not think about the incident, because politicians never took it seriously," people are still living in a world with nuclear arms.

The Japan Times: Feb. 27, 2004
(C) All rights reserved

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2004 9:12 PM
Subject: 50 years later - Lucky Dragon


See the following report of a survivor of the Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon)
1954 test. Does anyone know if there were follow-up reports on the survivors
after the 1989 25-year follow-up report by Kumatori (1980)? See Sohei
Kondo's report in his 1993 book at:

Thank you.
Regards, Jim Muckerheide

Bikini test survivors still living with blast
Fukuryu Maru crew victimized by nuclear fallout, then treated as pariahs

Staff writer


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