Tsutomu 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.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, narrating to his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview.“
I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima,” he said.
Japan surrendered six days after the Nagasaki attack.
Mr. Yamaguchi recovered from his wounds, went to work for the American occupation forces, became a teacher and eventually returned to work at Mitsubishi.
Mr. Yamaguchi was philosophical about his surviving the blasts. “I could have died on either of those days,” he told The Mainichi Daily News of Japan in August. “Everything that follows is a bonus.”
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only official survivor of both atomic blasts to hit Japan in World War II, died of stomach cancer in Nagasaki, Japan. He was 93.
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