TOKYO, Jan. 6, 2010 -- The only person officially recognized as having been twice in the bull's eye of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has died.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, aged 93, passed away Monday. He had been hospitalized since November for stomach cancer.
"I'm very sorry that we have lost one of the very valuable witnesses of the atomic bomb experience," said Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue in a statement. "His harsh experience to be bombed twice has been made known to the world and his activities have made people aware of the foolishness of war and he also appealed for the elimination of nuclear weapons."
Yamaguchi, an engineer by trade, was on a business trip to Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 when the world's first atomic bomb, code named Little Boy by the United States, left him temporarily blind and deaf, and with serious burns covering his body.
Three days later Yamaguchi had returned to his home in Nagasaki where less than 2 miles away the second bomb, dubbed Fat Man, was dropped.
The blasts caused Yamaguchi to lose hearing in his left ear, according to The Mainichi Daily News. He also suffered from acute leukemia, cataracts and other bomb-related illnesses in subsequent years.Atomic Bomb Survivors are defined by law as people who were within a specific radius of the bombings or who were exposed to radiation during the fallout.
Yamaguchi had been recognized as "hibakusha," translated as "explosion affected people," by the Japanese government.
There are over 200,000 officially recognized hibakusha in Japan, and they are reportedly entitled to a small monthly allowance from the government. Many still suffer from exposure to radiation.
In March 2009 - nearly 64 years after the bombings – the Japanese government certified that Yamaguchi was indeed targeted twice.
"My double radiation exposure is now an official government record," Yamaguchi said last year as quoted by The Mainichi Daily News. "It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die."
Over the last few years Yamaguchi shared his personal accounts publicly. He spoke at the United Nations, wrote books and appeared in the documentary "Twice Bombed, Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" by filmmaker Hideo Nakamura.