One of Japan’s leading nuclear weapons activists, who survived the world’s first atomic bomb attack, has died at the age of 96.
Sunao Tsuboi was on his way to college when he was involved in the Hiroshima explosion on August 6, 1945, sustaining burns all over his body.
About 140,000 people were killed and Tsuboi devoted his life to the campaign to eradicate nuclear weapons.
He met Barack Obama during his historic visit to Hiroshima as president of the United States.
They shook hands and chatted for about a minute during the 2016 meeting.
This was the first visit by a US president to the city since the attack, which was launched towards the end of World War II when the Allies pushed Japan back.
“I was able to express my thoughts,” Tsuboi, who played a leading role in Japan’s national organization for atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb survivors, later said.
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He died Saturday of anemia, an association official told AFP news agency.
The day the bomb went off, the engineering student was 20 years old.
“Naked, I tried to escape for about three hours on August 6, but in the end I couldn’t walk anymore,” he told AFP.
Picking up a stone he wrote “Tsuboi dies here” on the ground before passing out, waking up only several weeks later.
He was so weak and scarred he had to start his recovery by practicing crawling on the floor, he told the Associated Press news agency.
Tsuboi continued to teach mathematics in schools in Japan, telling young people about his experiences during the war. Pupils nicknamed him “Mr Pikadon” (“Mr Flash-Boom”), he said in an interview on the Hiroshima Peace media website.
“Never give up” was his advice to anti-nuclear activists.
“We must not only mourn the death of a great leader for our cause, but we must also continue on his path, undeterred, and always remember his words”, Akira Kawasaki of the international campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, he told Japanese public TV.
Tsuboi developed cancer and other diseases, spending periods of his working life in the hospital being treated for anemia.
About 127,000 survivors of the nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still alive.
Sunao Tsuboi leaves behind two daughters and a son, AP reports.
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