Shuntaro Hida M.D.
Photo by ZDF/BBC
Shuntaro Hida was born in Hiroshima in 1917. In 1945, Dr. Hida was a young Japanese Army medical officer stationed in the Hiroshima Military Hospital. Around 2:00 a.m. on 6 August 1945, he was called to the nearby village of Hesaka to treat a sick child. It was from that distance of about six kilometers that he witnessed the explosion of the atomic bomb at 8:10 a.m., felt its heat and blast, and saw the ominous mushroom cloud that continued to grow and spread its deadly radioactive fallout.
Realizing that his medical services would be sorely needed, Dr. Hida attempted to return to his hospital in Hiroshima. However, he was soon turned back by hordes of horribly injured victims fleeing the city. He returned instead to Hesaka, where he set up an emergency field hospital and began to treat the physical and emotional wounds of the victims. Ever since that day of the bombing, Dr. Hida has been engaged in providing medical care for A-bomb sufferers — the Hibakusha.
During the American occupation, the Japanese people were forbidden to talk or ask about what happened. If they did so, they were arrested because the United States didn’t want the Soviet Union to get any information about the atomic bomb or its effects. Dr. Hida was arrested four times. The freedom to talk about their experience didn’t come until ten years after the bombing.
A-bomb sufferers began to gather around Dr. Hida, and he became their advocate. He was the first one to urge the Hibakusha to seek medical treatment and compensation from the American government. For doing so, he was labeled an extreme leftist.
Today he is director of the Hibakusha Counseling Center of Nihon Hidankyo — the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers’ Organizations — in Tokyo.
Dr. Hida has also been an outspoken advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He now travels the world as an authoritative speaker for this cause, which is so vital for the future of humankind.
In October 2002, Dr. Hida visited Richland, Washington, to meet with Tom Bailie, a farmer and Hanford “downwinder” from nearby Basin City, to discuss the effects of radiation on humans. I was privileged to meet Dr. Hida then and hear first-hand his personal story of witnessing the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and treating the victims.
Dr. Hida kindly gave me an autographed copy of his 38-page typewritten memoir, “Under the Mushroom-Shaped Cloud in Hiroshima.” With his permission, we are honored to publish his memoir on the Internet to make it available to the global community.
“I am a doctor,” said Dr. Hida. “That’s why I respect human life. It’s more important than power or money.”
~ Jim Stoffels, September 2006