• Kyodo


A U.S. research institute requested in 1954 that an army doctor obtain and send to Washington pathological tissue from a Japanese fisherman who died after a U.S. hydrogen bomb test in the South Pacific, according to U.S. documents.

The request apparently reflected the U.S. stance that Aikichi Kuboyama, a 40-year-old radio operator on the 140-ton trawler Fukuryu Maru No. 5, died of serum hepatitis caused by transfusion treatment, rather than of radiation injuries that Japanese doctors had observed.

The documents on exchanges between Elbert Decoursey, chief of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and James Hansen, an army doctor stationed in Japan, were uncovered by Hiroko Takahashi, a lecturer at Hiroshima City University, at the AFIP’s archives.

According to Takahashi, the U.S. apparently intended to deny for political reasons that the H-bomb test led to Kuboyama’s death, “so the United States could continue the nuclear bomb tests.”

Hansen attended the autopsy of Kuboyama, who died Sept. 23, 1954, after his boat, also called the Lucky Dragon, was hit by radiation from the bomb test at Bikini Atoll on March 31 that year.

It has already been revealed that some of his tissue was secretly used as pathological specimens in the United States, and the newly found documents indicate for the first time how his tissue was transferred to the country.

The documents include pictures of the Japanese doctors, including Masao Tsuzuki, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, who observed the autopsy.

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