Monday, March 30, 2009

Meet Mr. Yamaguchi Tsutomo...

In the news here in Japan recently is a 93-year-old man named Yamaguchi Tsutomo. As a young engineer, Mr. Yamguchi was in Hiroshima on business on August 6th when a B-29 called the Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb. Wounded in the blast and with Hiroshima devastated, Mr. Yamaguchi wisely went home...

To Nagasaki, where he survived the second atomic bombing on August 9th.

The Japanese government recently certified him the only double hibakusha, or radiation survivor. While he's entitled to government benefits, he won't receive any more for his double distinction than the single bombing survivors. In some ways, he's the unluckiest man I've ever heard of, and in others, perhaps the most fortunate. No one would ever want to be involved in a single atomic blast, much less end up on the receiving end of two. And yet Mr. Yamaguchi managed to live through two unendurably horrific events, and he's been beating the odds-- cancer, the stigma attached to being hibakusha (read the novel Kuroi Ame for more on this particular phenomenon) and simple aging-- for more than sixty years.

Anyway, I think his story is amazing.

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