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Nagasaki A-bomb Report Found 60 Years Later
Controversial Report Banned by US Military Censors
Utter destruction of Nagasaki by US bombing on August 9, 1945 with a single atomic weapon. In the background, a Roman Catholic cathedral on a hill in Nagasaki.

LOS ANGELES, June 17, 2005 — A controversial report and photos a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist produced on the aftermath of the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki have been unearthed almost 60 years after U.S. military censors forbade their publication, a Japanese daily Mainichi has reported.

The late George Weller was the first foreign reporter to reach Nagasaki after it was subjected to an atomic attack on Aug. 9, 1945, but Occupation censors refused to allow the publication of his stories and photos that told of conditions in the city and the pain suffered by those with radiation sickness.

The U.S. government at the time wanted to play down the effects radiation had on health and feared that Weller's story would affect American public opinion and it possibly affected development of a nuclear arms race.

Weller died aged 95 in 2002. His son, Anthony, a writer from Massachusetts, found the stories and pictures last summer in the Rome apartment where his father had lived during the last few years of his life.

Mushroom cloud — A dense column of smoke rises over 60,000 feet (18,288 meters) into the air over the Japanese port of Nagasaki, the result of an atomic bomb, the second ever used in warfare, dropped on the industrial center on August 8, 1945 from a U.S. B-29 Superfortress.

The stories had been typed and carbon-copied. The paper on which they had been printed had browned. The stories were typed out on about 75 pages and comprised some 25,000 words. There were also another 25 photos taken of Nagasaki soon after the bombing.

Weller arrived in Nagasaki on Sept. 6, 1945. He had been covering a story in nearby Kagoshima Prefecture, but by riding in a motorboat and catching trains, he made it to the A-bombed city, which was then off-limits to all foreign reporters. Weller used Nagasaki as his base and spent about two weeks covering events in the city and the northern part of Kyushu.

Weller's first story from Nagasaki had a Sept. 6, 1945, dateline. In a story with a dateline two days later, Weller did not seem to realize that the people he saw were being affected by radiation.

"Nobody here in Nagasaki has yet been able to show that the bomb is different than any other, except in a broader extent flash and a more powerful knock-out," Weller wrote.

A-bomb victim
A child victim of Nagasaki atomic bomb explosion. Over 73, 000 Japanese people were immediately killed by the US atomic bomb in Nagasaki, Japan on August 8, 1945. Two days earlier the first US atomic bomb killed 70,000 Japanese out of 350,000 Hiroshima population. Many more died later from the effects of the A-bombs.

On the same day, Weller visited two Nagasaki hospitals and realized the symptoms peculiar to radiation poisoning. He wrote of seeing a woman who had initially suffered only a minor burn, yet was now unable to speak and her legs and arms were speckled with tiny red spots.

The reporter for the now defunct Chicago Daily News also saw a girl with the same red spots and a nose clotted with blood, as well as children who had lost their hair. None of these children had initially reported burns or broken limbs. A Dutch doctor Weller met described their condition as "Disease X."

On the following day, a doctor called Yoshisada Nakashima visited Nagasaki from Fukuoka, explaining to Weller that "Disease X" was the effect of radiation and that people would continue to die from the bomb long after it had been dropped.

Weller quoted Nakashima saying that some of the patients he had dealt with in Nagasaki were obviously suffering from radiation poisoning.

Atomic bomb survivor — Her skin is burned in a pattern corresponding to he dark portions of a kimono worn at the time of the explosion.?tomic bomb survivor.

"These patients begin with slight burns which make normal progress for two weeks. They differ from simple burns, however, in that the patient has a high fever. Unfevered patients with as much as one-third of the skin area burned have been known to recover. But where fever is present after two weeks, healing of burns suddenly halts and they get worse. They come to resemble septic ulcers. Yet patients are not in great pain, which distinguishes them from any X-ray burns victims," Weller wrote, adding that most of these patients died after no longer than five days.

Weller added: "their organs after death are found in a normal condition of health."

Weller's son said that his father forwarded his stories to the Occupation's General Headquarters, but its censors refused to pass them for publication. The censors never returned Weller's stories and he had believed he had lost the copies.

A story Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett wrote about radiation poisoning in Hiroshima for Britain's Daily Express on Sept. 5, 1945, which probably prompted the U.S. government to ban publication of Weller's stories.

Weller's son said that had his father's stories been printed not long after they were originally filed, they would have been earth-shattering revelations about the dangers of radiation.

Weller won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 1943 for a story about an American soldier who performed an emergency appendectomy while in a submarine being attacked. (By Sumire Kunieda, Mainichi)

Follow this link to read Weller's "Nagasaki Report" in full:






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