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A-bomb book by Briton to be reprinted on Nagasaki anniversary

This undated photo shows the Japanese language edition of British author Peter Townsend's "The Postman of Nagasaki." (Kyodo)

VIENNA (Kyodo) -- A daughter of Peter Townsend, a former equerry to Britain's King George VI, will visit Nagasaki next month to promote the Aug. 9 release of a reprint of his nonfiction piece depicting the pain and suffering of a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of the southwestern Japan city.

    Isabelle Townsend, 57, a model who lives on the outskirts of Paris, is the eldest daughter of the late Battle of Britain fighter pilot who released "The Postman of Nagasaki" in 1984 based on several weeks of research and interviews in Nagasaki two years earlier.

    The book, released in English as well as French in a shorter version, depicts the life of his friend Sumiteru Taniguchi, a former co-chairman of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations and a Japanese reprint will be published on the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing.

    "He was angry about civilians being hurt, he judged the war from a humanitarian point of view," Isabelle Townsend said, adding her father had suffered for years from nightmares, having lived experienced the war as a fighter pilot.

    She also said she had found audio tapes in which her father describes details about Nagasaki, such as the trees, flowers and streets, during his stay. The recordings have been shared with a team in Nagasaki making a documentary film based on her father's book.

    "It's to create a chain, sort of a peace chain. Taniguchi-san won't be forgotten," she said, adding that her father "would have loved" the project.

    The French version of Townsend's book was translated into Japanese in 1985 and is now out of print. It appeared in a high school textbook. The Japanese version, to be released on Aug. 9, will be the first full translation of the original English version.

    Yoshihiro Saito, a 71-year-old graphic designer is leading the reprint project amid growing concern that the stories of atomic bomb survivors may be forgotten. The average age of the survivors topped 82 as of March 2018, according to the Japanese government.

    "I'd like the book to be passed from generation to generation," Saito said, adding the book will be priced at 809 yen, a figure derived from "Aug. 9." It will be given away free to high school students in Nagasaki.

    Taniguchi was a 16-year-old postman when he was exposed to the bomb while delivering mail on a red bicycle. While he lingered between life and death in hospital, the U.S military took pictures of him lying on his stomach. Taniguchi became a prominent peace activist who led the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons until his death in August 2017.

    Peter Townsend, known for his romance with the late Princess Margaret, met Taniguchi during his visit to Nagasaki as a journalist in 1982. Townsend described Taniguchi's life before and after the tragedy of the atomic bombing as well as people's lives and views in Nagasaki before and after the world's second nuclear attack.

    In the book Townsend criticized the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians in the atomic bombing and the long-lasting damage to human health from the radiation emitted.

    He also described extensively a wide range of situations at the end of the war, such as what made then U.S. President Harry Truman's administration decide to use atomic bombs against Japan, mentioning the hesitation among generals and scientists, Japanese military chiefs' resistance to capitulation and the mistreatment of Allied prisoners of war.

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