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[cdn-nucl-l] He is 70 years old, In plain text, Fw: It was a blast! Fw: 50 years later - Lucky Dragon
The fisherman received quite high doses - acute radiation syndrome.
Japan faces 50th anniversary of U.S. nuclear test in the Pacific
MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, February 28, 2004
©2004 Associated Press
(02-28) 01:06 PST TOKYO (AP) --
On the night of March 1, 1954, the No. 5 Fukuryu-maru was trolling for tuna
off the Bikini atoll in the Pacific.
Suddenly, fisherman Matashichi Oishi saw the midnight sky flash orange and a
rumbling shook the trawler. As he and 22 other crew members rushed to the
deck, tiny white flakes began to fall on them like snow.
An underwater volcano, they thought. But it was something far more
destructive: an American hydrogen bomb.
The No. 5 Fukuryu-maru, or Lucky Dragon, was about 100 miles off Bikini
island in the central Pacific when the United States tested its bomb there,
engulfing the fishermen in heavy radiation.
The bombing 50 years ago Monday provoked huge protests in Japan and
reinforced the image of the Japanese -- the target of the Hiroshima and
Nagasaki attacks -- as unique witnesses to the atomic age.
"We were the victims of the nuclear arms race," said Oishi, 70, who runs a
laundry in Tokyo and recently published a book on the bombing. "The Bikini
incident is not a problem of the past. It's an issue of nuclear weapons that
affects all of us today."
For the fishermen exposed, the effects were devastating.
By the time the trawler returned home two weeks later, some crew members had
lost hair, developed skin burns or had discolored faces. They suffered from
diarrhea and jaundice, and their white blood counts dropped dangerously low.
The boat's radio telegraph operator, Aikichi Kuboyama, died in September
1954, aged 40.
Survivors have suffered from liver and blood disorders, including Oishi, who
was operated on for liver cancer. In addition to Kuboyama, 11 crew members
have died in the half-century since the exposure, at least six of them from
Fears at the time were high that such exposure was much more widespread.
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 66 nuclear tests at
Bikini as part of "Operation Crossroads." The atoll is part of the Marshall
Islands, almost midway between Hawaii and Tokyo.
A Japanese government survey estimated about 850 other Japanese fishing
boats were exposed to radiation, and some 160 fishermen eventually came
forward to collect U.S.-paid compensation. Oishi's boat, however, was the
only boat confirmed to have been there at the time of the explosion.
Most of the other boats are thought to have entered the affected area soon
after the explosion. The survey did not measure any potential impact on
Officials knew of the testing program, but Oishi says fishermen were not
well informed about where and when bombs would explode. No follow-up studies
have been conducted on those other boats and nobody knows the total number
of fishermen who might have been affected, says Kazuya Yasuda, curator of
Tokyo's No. 5 Fukuryu-maru Exhibition Hall, where the boat is now on
The exhibit includes a crew diary and artifacts like a glass bottle of the
"ash of death" -- radioactive flakes of coral vaporized in the blast -- that
fell on Oishi and the rest of the crew. The exhibit was renovated ahead of
the 50th anniversary of the Bikini bombing.
"We are here to let people think about the risk of nuclear weapons today and
think about peace," said Yasuda as he walked past visiting elementary school
children on a field trip.
The Japanese government sought $6 million in compensation and got $2 million
in 1955. In 1983 the Marshall Islands, then U.S.-administrated, got $183.7
The package for Japan included condolence money for Kuboyama, about $5,600
each plus medical costs for 160 surviving crew members and other exposed
fishermen, and damages to Japan's fishing industry, according to Foreign
The payments settled the issue between the governments, but the victims'
The crew faced a stigma common in Japan for victims and the physically ill.
Oishi fled the prying eyes of his neighbors in his hometown of Yaizu, 100
miles southwest of Tokyo.
He returned to the capital but the effects of the bombing kept coming back.
Oishi's first baby was born with birth defects in 1960 and died. His
daughter suffered three broken marriage engagements after prospective
husbands learned Oishi had been exposed to radiation.
"For years, I only wanted to hide my past. But after seeing my colleagues
die like social outcasts, I felt it wasn't right. I thought it was so
unfair," Oishi said. "So I came out of the closet. I couldn't let our past
forgotten like nothing happened."
Since he broke his silence in the early 1980s, Oishi has spoken at schools,
town halls and museums.
"As a survivor of the nuclear test, I have to let people know the threat of
nuclear weapons," he said. "I'll keep telling my story as long as I live."
©2004 Associated Press
----- Original Message -----
From: Jerry Cuttler
Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2004 2:25 PM
Subject: In plain text, Fw: It was a blast! Fw: 50 years later - Lucky
In plain text. Hyperlink below.