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A-bomb survivor Sumiteru Taniguchi dies of cancer at 88

Sumiteru Taniguchi shows a photo in which he undergoes treatment for burns he suffered to his entire back in the Aug. 9, 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, in this May 7, 2010 file photo taken at the U.N. headquarters in New York. (Mainichi)

NAGASAKI -- Sumiteru Taniguchi, a survivor of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki and a senior member of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, died of cancer on Aug. 30. He was 88.

The wake for Taniguchi will be held from 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 and funeral services from 1 p.m. on Sept. 1, both at Heiansha's Nagasaki funeral hall in the city of Nagasaki.

Taniguchi was exposed to radiation while he was delivering mail items about 1.8 kilometers from the hypocenter in Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945 when he was 16. He suffered serious injuries, including severe burns to his entire back caused by heat rays from the atomic bomb.

Taniguchi spent three years and seven months in hospital from shortly after the bombing. During his hospitalization, he was forced to spend a year and nine months lying face-down on his bed because of his back injuries. Subsequently, he was repeatedly hospitalized to undergo treatment for his after-effects.

He subsequently launched an anti-nuclear campaign with other A-bomb survivors, or "hibakusha" in Japanese. Taniguchi participated in the activities of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council since its founding in 1956, contributing to improvement in relief measures for hibakusha and calling for nuclear weapons abolition.

Taniguchi became chairman of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council in May 2006, and was appointed as co-chair of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations in June 2010.

Since 2008, Taniguchi had also served as a member of the committee to draft the Peace Declaration read out by the Nagasaki mayor at the annual ceremony to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city on Aug. 9. On behalf of hibakusha, Taniguchi read aloud the Commitment to Peace during the 1974 and 2015 ceremonies.

Taniguchi proactively talked about his bombing experience until his final years to pass down his memory as a hibakusha to younger generations, appealing for nuclear abolition and a war-free world.

He visited the United States in 2010 when the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was held at the U.N. headquarters in New York. During an NGO session, he showed off a photo showing burns to his entire back and said to the attendees, "Don't turn your eyes away from this photo and look straight at it." During the gathering, he emphasized that "nuclear weapons and human beings can't coexist."

When the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted at the United Nations in July, he said in a video message that was recorded while he was in hospital, "I'm very glad. I'd like (the countries concerned) to make efforts to rid the world of nuclear arms as early as possible."

He earnestly expressed hope for the elimination of nuclear weapons and for world peace during interviews with the Mainichi Shimbun for its "Hibakusha" series, which began in October 2006.

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