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Hibakusha: Nagasaki doctor set on why nuclear weapons must never be used again

Masao Tomonaga is pictured at the Megumi no Oka Nagasaki Genbaku Home on March 4, 2020. (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

NAGASAKI -- Masao Tomonaga, 76, a Nagasaki doctor who as a toddler survived the city's 1945 atomic bombing, looked warmly at a 91-year-old patient in a consultation room at the Megumi no Oka Nagasaki Genbaku Home, a special care facility for the elderly.

"So where was it that you were exposed to the atomic bomb?" he asked. The patient was 16 when it exploded over Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. She quietly spoke about the devastating scenes she saw from the second floor of a public market in the city center.

Tomonaga has served as a doctor for half a century. He specializes in hematology, and has poured his efforts into shedding light on the effects of radiation from A-bombs on people's blood. His work eventually led him to researching leukemia -- the same topic that occupied the attention of his father, who treated atomic bomb survivors from both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"It was shocking for me to learn that radiation from the atomic bombings actually caused cancer," he said. "The essence of why an atomic bomb must never be used again lies in that fact."

Tomonaga has treated patients at the Megumi no Oka facility for close to 40 years. Addressing the 91-year-old patient with a smile, he said, "You're still thinking clearly. Aim to reach 100."

(Japanese original by Shotaro Asano, Nagasaki Bureau)

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