Post­man- turned- cam­paigner who sur­vived Na­gasaki atomic bomb dies at 88

Global Times - - World -

Prom­i­nent nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment cam­paigner Sumiteru Taniguchi, who was de­liv­er­ing mail in Na­gasaki when the US dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, died Wed­nes­day at the age of 88.

Taniguchi, once con­sid­ered a fron­trun­ner for the No­bel Peace Prize, died of can­cer at a hos­pi­tal in the south­west­ern Ja­panese city, ac­cord­ing to Ni­hon Hi­dankyo, a group that rep­re­sents sur­vivors of the atomic bomb­ings of Na­gasaki and Hiroshima.

The then- post­man, aged only 16 when the at­tack hap­pened in the clos­ing days of World War II, suf­fered hor­rific burns to his back and left arm that took years to heal prop­erly.

He had been rid­ing his bi­cy­cle some 1.8 kilo­me­ters from the epi­cen­ter of the blast.

“All of a sud­den, af­ter see­ing a rain­bow- like light from the back, I was blown by a pow­er­ful blast and smashed to the ground,” he said at a com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mony for the Na­gasaki bomb­ing in 2015.

“When I woke up, the skin of my left arm from the shoul­der to the tip of my fin­gers was trail­ing like a rag. I put my hand to my back and found my cloth­ing was gone, and there was slimy, burnt skin all over my hand.

“Bod­ies burned black, voices calling for help from col­lapsed build­ings, peo­ple with flesh fall­ing off and their guts fall­ing out ... This place be­came a sea of fire. It was hell.”

He be­came one of the few early faces of the bomb­ing af­ter­math when US mil­i­tary pic­tures of him re­cov­er­ing in hos­pi­tal, his en­tire back an ag­o­nis­ing slab of melted flesh, were beamed around the world.

Taniguchi, who spent about three­and- a- half years in hos­pi­tal af­ter the blast, went on to be­come a prom­i­nent dis­ar­ma­ment cam­paigner, mak­ing dozens of speeches both in Japan and over- seas about his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I fear that peo­ple, es­pe­cially the younger gen­er­a­tions, are be­gin­ning to lose in­ter­est,” he said in a 2003 in­ter­view with AFP.

“I want the younger gen­er­a­tions to remember that nu­clear weapons will never save hu­man­ity. It is an il­lu­sion to be­lieve that the nu­clear um­brella will pro­tect us.”

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