Radioactive rays photographed from Nagasaki nuclear ‘death ash’

NAGASAKI (Kyodo) A team of researchers has succeeded in photographing radioactive rays coming from the cells of people who died in the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

The pictures are evidence that the nuclear “death ash” continues to emit radiation from a corpse even after 60-plus years, according to Kazuko Shichijo, an assistant professor at Nagasaki University, a member of the team.

Little progress has been made in the study on the effects of internal exposure to radiation. The team’s success is the first of its kind in proving that atomic bomb victims were exposed to radiation from the inside as well as from outside.

“We have succeeded, from pathological perspectives, in proving that people were exposed to radiation internally,” Shichijo said.

“It may help pave the way for unraveling its effect on health,” she said.

The team studied anatomical samples of seven people in their 20s to 70s who had died by the end of 1945 from acute conditions after being exposed to the bomb between 0.5 km and 1 km from the hypocenter.

The team succeeded in photographing alpha particles, emitted when radioactive material decays, appearing in the picture as dark lines radiating from near the nuclei of the cells in bones, kidneys and lungs of the victims.

The team concluded the alpha particles were almost identical in length to those emitted from the plutonium used in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

“Plutonium passes through the human body when people are exposed to it from the outside,” said Nanao Kamada, professor emeritus of radiation biology at Hiroshima University. “But the study shows that it enters cells and emits radiation from inside the human body.

“The effects of internal exposure to radiation have not been taken seriously in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he said. “The study is important as it visibly captured the effects.”

Mount Fuji protest

ATOP MOUNT FUJI (Kyodo) Danish Ambassador to Japan Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin called for nuclear nonproliferation Thursday as he staged a protest march to the top of Mount Fuji over an ever-present nuclear proliferation threat on the 64th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Brandishing a banner that ironically said, “Have a nice doomsday,” Mellbin and 25 other climbers who advocate nonproliferation offered a one-minute silent prayer from 8:15 a.m., the time of the atomic-bomb attack on Hiroshima, and then shouted the slogan.

Although this slogan does not have any religious connotation, it is meant to ask people in the world whether they have made any effort to stop nuclear proliferation, he said.

Following a demonstration near the crater of Japan’s highest mountain, the Danish ambassador said, “The world is one and we are one with the world. It’s true for the environment but it’s also true for peace.

“This march was just a perfect opportunity to show the strength of cooperating and doing something together actively,” he said. The protesters called for nonproliferation after an overnight climb to the top of the 3,776-meter mountain, which is considered the symbol of Japan.

The ambassador told reporters at the summit that time is crucial now because danger comes from the governments of such countries as North Korea and Iran that try to “stay in power by acquiring nuclear weapons.”