Tsutomu Yamaguchi – the Japanese man who survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki

It seems almost improper to suggest that fortune was smiling on Tsutomu Yamaguchi in the dying days of the second world war. He was one of an unknown number of survivors from the Hiroshima bombing had made their way to Nagasaki, where they were bombed again.

Although at least 160 people are known to have been affected by both bombings, he is the only person to have been officially recognized by the government of Japan as surviving both explosions. A resident of Nagasaki, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on business for his employer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries when the city was bombed at 8:15 am, on August 6, 1945. The following day, he returned to Nagasaki and, despite his wounds, also returned to work on August 9, the day of the second atomic bombing. In 1957, he was recognized as a hibakusha (explosion-affected person) of the Nagasaki bombing, but it was not until March 24, 2009 that the government of Japan officially recognized his presence in Hiroshima three days earlier.

On December 17, 2010, the BBC featured Yamaguchi in its comedy program QI, referring to him as “The Unluckiest Man in the World.” Stephen Fry, the host of QI, and celebrity guests drew laughter from some members of the audience in a segment that included examples of black humor such as asking if the bomb had “landed on him and bounced off.”

Tsutomu Yamaguchi died of stomach cancer on January 4, 2010.

Sources: Guardian.co.uk, Wikipedia.

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