Tsutomu Yamaguchi, 1916-2010

Tsutomu Yamaguchi died on January 4th in Tokyo at the age of 93. Yamaguchi had the distinction of being the only survivor of both atomic bomb strikes on Japan.

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the “Little Boy” device detonated above Hiroshima….

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki 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 there.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with The Independent newspaper.

Yamaguchi was ultimately felled by stomach cancer, but we have to imagine that even the Grim Reaper decided in late 1945 that he’d give the guy a pass for as long as he needed.