Hiroshima atomic bombing survivor Sunao Tsuboi dies at 96

  • FILE - In this May 27, 2016, file photo, Sunao Tsuboi, right, a survivor of the 1945 Atomic Bombing and chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization, talks with then U.S. President Barack Obama, center, accompanied by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan. Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with then President Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96.

    FILE - In this May 27, 2016, file photo, Sunao Tsuboi, right, a survivor of the 1945 Atomic Bombing and chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization, talks with then U.S. President Barack Obama, center, accompanied by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan. Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with then President Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, Sunao Tsuboi, then co-chairperson of Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations speaks during an interview at his office in Hiroshima, western Japan. Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with then President Barack Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96.

    FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, Sunao Tsuboi, then co-chairperson of Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations speaks during an interview at his office in Hiroshima, western Japan. Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with then President Barack Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 27, 2016, file photo, Japanese atomic bomb survivor and Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization Chairman Sunao Tsuboi, center, talks with then U.S. President Barack Obama, right, accompanied by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western, Japan. Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with then President Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96.

    FILE - In this May 27, 2016, file photo, Japanese atomic bomb survivor and Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization Chairman Sunao Tsuboi, center, talks with then U.S. President Barack Obama, right, accompanied by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western, Japan. Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with then President Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96. Associated Press

 
 
Posted10/27/2021 7:00 AM

TOKYO -- Sunao Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with President Barack Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96.

Tsuboi died Oct. 24 in a hospital in Hiroshima in southwestern Japan. The cause of death was given as an irregular heartbeat caused by anemia, Nihon Hidankyo, the nationwide group of atomic bomb survivors he headed until his death, said Wednesday.

 

When Obama made his historic visit to Hiroshima, Obama and Tsuboi held each other's hand in a long handshake and shared a laugh. An interpreter stood by. Tsuboi, a gentle yet passionate man, recalled he tried to talk fast, to tell Obama he will be remembered for having listened to atomic bomb survivors, known in Japanese as 'hibakusha.'

'I think he is such an earnest person or has the heart to feel for others,' Tsuboi said of the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima.

Tsuboi was 20 years old when he miraculously survived the U.S. atomic bombing of his hometown on Aug. 6, 1945, in the closing days of World War II.

He suffered such serious burns a part of his ear was gone. When he emerged from unconsciousness 40 days after the bombing, the war was over. He was so weak and scarred he had to start by practicing crawling on the floor.

'They wanted to kill us. No mistake about that,' Tsuboi said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2013.

The world's first atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima, killing 140,000 people instantly and within months. Three days later, the U.S. forces dropped a second nuclear bomb, on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000 people. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Tsuboi made a point to stress what happened in Hiroshima was horrible.

'Here it was about annihilation,' he told the AP.

Tsuboi worked as a junior high school teacher. He was so intent on educating youngsters about anti-nuclear proliferation his nickname became 'pikadon sensei,' combining the 'flash-boom' onomatopoeia Japanese use to describe the bomb and the word for 'teacher.'

'Never give up' was his trademark phrase, especially for his fight for a world without nuclear weapons.

Akira Kawasaki of ICAN, or the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of non-government organizations, said the death of a man who had been the poster boy for anti-nuclear proliferation left him with a 'big hole' in his heart.

'We must not only mourn the death of a great leader for our cause, but we must also continue in his path, undeterred, and always remember his words,' he told Japanese public broadcaster NHK TV.

Tsuboi is survived by two daughters and a son. A wake and funeral services were held with immediate family Monday and Tuesday, in respect to Tsuboi's wishes to keep ceremonies low key. His group is still undecided on a memorial service.

___

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.