Dr Hida, born in 1917, is a well known medical practitioner, highly regarded for his long-standing activities to save victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. On the day of Hiroshima bombing, 6 August 1945, at 8:15 AM, Dr Hida, as a 28 year old military surgeon, was treating a child in Hesaka village, 7km north of Hiroshima city.
He felt a blinding flash, a wave of heat on his face and arms and was thrown to the next room. As soon as he able, he searched for the child. Fortunately, he saw a small hand sticking out from the rubble. Dr Hida managed to claw the child out of the rubble and escape to safety.
Afterward, on his way to Hiroshima city on his bicycle, he encountered many people who had lost semblance of humanity. At first sight, it appeared that their tattered clothes were hanging from their bodies, and black water was dripping from their hands. As he came closer, he saw the hanging tattered rags were skin, and the black water was blood.
From then on, with other surgeons and nurses, Dr Hida treated atomic bomb victims in the Hesaka branch of Hiroshima Military Hospital . They had heard via the Kure Navy base that the bomb that had destroyed Hiroshima was described by US broadcasting as an atomic bomb. However the relationship of the name of the bomb and the peculiar symptoms of the victims were unknown to Dr Hida and to other surgeons. A tremendous number of atomic bomb victims and survivors continued to exhibit high temperature, ecrosis of the mouth, purpura, bleeding, loss of hair, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.
Another abnormal phenomenon was that many people who were not in Hiroshima at the time of bombing began to die of the same symptoms. The first such person encountered by Dr Hida insisted, in his dying words, that he had not experienced the pika. Victims of the first atomic bombing on Japan had described the new type of bombs as “pika” which means flashing. So why had people who had not been in Hiroshima experienced the same symptoms as the direct victims of the bomb?
Dr Hida became interested to find out about those who were not in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing but exhibited the same symptoms as those who were and also to find out about those who did not suffer from these symptoms, but had lost the energy, even to walk, and had lost immunity.
In early 1946, the director of the hospital where Dr Hida was working, told all doctors, personnel and patients about the official notice from the Minister of Health and Welfare not to keep records about the atomic bomb hazards in any form, as they are the US military’s classified matters.
In 1949 the US ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) was established in Hiroshima. The Commission examined victims, and collected their data, but did not treat them. The organs of deceased victims were taken to America for research purposes. Only the victims’ thumbs were given back to their families and relatives.
Japanese academics were prohibited to do research and surveys of atomic bombs. The findings and data of atomic bomb victims by a medical team at Kyoto University were taken by the US Occupation forces. As a result no information about atomic bomb related disease were supplied to Japanese medical practitioners.
In 1950, Dr Hida opened a small clinic in Tokyo. Atomic bomb victims began to visit the clinic. He became known as a “Hibakusha Doctor” (medical practitioner who was exposed to the atomic bomb radiation). His patients had been abandoned by their government, the medical system, and their families, and were living in poverty and secrecy. By the time they reached Dr Hida, it was usually too late, and many died without proper treatment and care.
When Dr Hida began to talk (in secret) in Tokyo about his experiences of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, he was constantly under the surveillance of the US Military Police and often threatened by them. When atomic bomb victims formed an organization, “Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations” in 1956, they were regarded by the US and Japanese authorities as anti-American, and the surveillance of victims all over Japan became more zealous. Dr Hida is now the chairperson of the Central Consulting Centre of the above organization.
(based on HIDA Shuntaro & KAMANAKA Hitomi,
The Menace of Internal Exposure to Radiation,
Chikuma Shobo, Tokyo, 2005)
Message from Dr HIDA Shuntaro to ACSIR
“To Fight against the Harm of Internal Radiation Exposures”
After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident on March 11, 2011, since early May the number of telephone enquiries has increased, from mothers concerned about their children’s diarrhea, mouth ulcer, nose bleeding, purpura, feeling of fatigue, etc. These symptoms are similar to the early symptoms of victims of Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombs, in particular of those people who entered in the cities after the bombing. My intuition tells me that these symptoms may be due to internal exposure to radiation that was released by the accident, and I have been keeping my eye on the development.
The mothers’ anxiety and concern about the radiation hazard for their children are greater than I imagined, and spreading nationwide. The approaches and announcements by the government, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), academics and specialists in the field did not respond to the people’s anxieties about their lives. On the contrary the recommendations by the government, TEPCO, academics and specialists were to respond to the industry of nuclear power who demand the continuation and strengthening of nuclear power. From my own experience, the issues needed for enlightenment are as follows:
- about radiation itself
- meanings of external exposure, and internal exposure
- about human’s immune strength against natural radiation
- about the relationship between human beings and artificial radiation (explosion of nuclear weapons, made in nuclear power stations)
- about the fact that there is no remedy for damages from radiation exposure, and there is no effect of injections or medicines
- there is no way for irradiated victims to fight with radiation but to protect themselves from falling ill with their own life force and their way of life.
- It is said that the best way is to emigrate to far and safe places from the radiation releasing nuclear power plant, and not to take contaminated food and water. However the most important issue is what and how to respond to the problem for those who cannot do so.
I hear that in the Association for Citizens and Scientists concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures there are people from many walks of life, medical practitioners, lawyers, academics, and also citizens without particular titles and expertise. I hope they discuss, consult/educate each other, send out information and opinions to society, and achieve to find a way to fight with harms of internal exposure to radiation.