George Weller / Chicago Daily News – 2005-06-23 23:44:03
NAGASAKI (Saturday, Sept.8 (odn) — In swaybacked or flattened skeletons of the Mitsubishi arms plants is revealed what the atomic bomb can do to steel and stone, but what the riven atom can do against human flesh and bone lies hidden in two hospitals of downtown Nagasaki. Look at the pushed-in facade of the American consulate, three miles from the blast’s center, or the face of the Catholic cathedral, one mile in the other direction, torn down like gingerbread, and you can tell that the liberated atom spares nothing in the way. The human beings whom it has happened to spare sit on (illegible) One tiny family board their platforms in Nagasaki’s two largest (illegible) hospitals, their shoulders, arms and faces are strapped in bandages.
Showing them to you, as the first American outsider to reach Nagasaki since the surrender, your propaganda-conscious official guide looks meaningfully in your face and wants to knew: “What do you think?”
What this question means is: do you intend saying that America did something inhuman in loosing this weapon against Japan? That is what we want you to write.
Several children, some burned and others unburned but with patches of hair falling out, are sitting with their mothers. Yesterday Japanese photographers took many pictures with them. About one in five is heavily bandaged, but none of showing signs of pain.
Some adults are in pain as they lie on mats. They moan softly. One woman caring for her husband, shows eyes dim with tears. It is a piteous scene and your official guide studies your face covertly to see if you are moved.
Visiting many litters, talking lengthily with two general physicians and one X-ray specialist, gains you a large amount of information and opinion on the victims. Statistics are variable and few records are kept. But it is ascertained that this chief municipal hospital had about 750 atomic patients until this week and lost by death approximately 360.
About 70 percent of the deaths have been from plain burns. The Japanese say that anyone caught outdoors in a mile by half-mile area was burned to death. But this is known to be untrue because most of the allied prisoners burned in the plant escaped and only about one-fourth were burned. Yet it is undoubtedly true that many at 11:02 o’clock on this morning of Aug. 9 were caught in debris by casual fires which kindled and caught during the next half hour.
But most of the patients who were gravely burned have now passed away and those on hand are rapidly curing. Those not curing are people whose unhappy lot provides the mystery aura around the atomic bomb’s effects. They are victims of what Lt. Jakob Vink, Dutch medical officer and now allied commandant of prison camp 14 at the mouth of Nagasaki harbor calls “disease.” Vink himself was in the allied prison kitchen abutting the Mitsubishi armor plate department when the ceiling fell in but he escaped this mysterious “disease X” which some allied prisoners and many Japanese civilians got.
Vink points out a woman on a yellow mat in hospital, who according to hospital doctors Hikodero (sic) Koga and Uraaji (sic) Hayashida have just been brought in. She fled the atomic area but returned to live. She was well for three weeks expect a small burn on the heel. Now she lies moaning with a blackish mouth stiff as though with lockjaw and unable to utter clear words.
Her exposed legs and arms are speckled with tiny red spots in patches.
Near her lies a 15-year-old fattish girl who has the same blotchy red pinpoints and nose clotted with blood. A little farther on is a window lying down with four children, from one to about 8, around her. The two smallest children have lost some hair. Though none of these people has either a barn or a broken limb, they are presumed victims of the atomic bomb.
Dr. Uraji Hayashida shakes his head somberly and says that he believes there must be something to the American radio report about the ground around the Mitsubishi plant being poisoned. But his next statement knocks out the props from under this theory because it develops that the widow’s family has been absent from the wrecked area ever since the blast yet shows symptoms common with those who returned.
According to Japanese doctors, patients with these late developing symptoms are dying now a month after the bombs fall, at the rate of about 10 daily. The three doctors calmly stated that the disease has them nonplussed and that they are giving no treatment whatever but rest. Radio rumors from America received the same consideration with the symptoms under their noses. They are licked for cure and do not seem very worried about it.
“A NAGASAKI REPORT” by George Weller
Copyright (c) 2005 by Anthony Weller.
All rights reserved.
Published with permission of Anthony Weller, Gloucester, Massachusetts through Dunow & Carlson Literary Agency, New York via Tuttle-Mori Agency, Inc., Tokyo.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.