Part 3 Rescue and Medical Relief
Chapter 3：Atomic Bomb Disaster Investigations and Research
1. Investigations and Reports Immediately after the Atomic Bombing
2. Investigations by Scholarly Groups
3. The Special Committee for Investigation of Atomic Bomb Damages
4. Investigations by Nagasaki Medical College
5. U.S. Military Investigation Teams and Other Groups
6. Investigations by the Japan-US Joint Commission
7. United States Strategic Bombing Survey
8. Documentary Movies
The atomic bombings had no precedent in human history, and the effects extended widely into various as yet unknown fields. A comprehensive scientific investigation into the whole spectrum of atomic bomb effects was obviously necessary. However, the devastation and chaos made that all but impossible, and the days from the atomic bombing until the arrival of the Occupation Forces in early September passed without any organized studies being launched. The destruction of Nagasaki Medical College, in particular, presented a formidable obstacle to early medical studies.
Initial investigations were conducted soon after the atomic bombing by government organizations and military-related bodies. The Nagasaki prefectural government launched a situation assessment immediately after the explosion of the so-called “new-type bomb” and followed up with investigations on its own or through related bodies regarding the damages that were gradually being revealed. Findings were sent, one after another, in the form of preliminary reports to the national government (Air Defense General Headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) and the Western Force District Staff Officer Division through the Kyūshū District Government-General. A total of eight reports were sent before the end of the war.
The Nagasaki District Military Police also quickly launched an investigation into the damage. As of 12:00 p.m. on August 10, the day after the atomic bombing, the military police had organized their findings and submitted written reports to the related units, including the Western Force Military Police Headquarters, military police chiefs throughout Kyūshū and Nagasaki Fortress Headquarters.
The details included the general situation, damage to related organizations, relief and recovery situations (including the army’s mobilization and cooperation status), current public sentiment, the situation at the Fukuoka Branch No.14 POW Camp, the status of communications, transportation, electricity and other utilities, the extent of fire extinguishing efforts, and the medical treatment of military police officers.
In addition, a document entitled “Combat Lessons from the Air Raid on Nagasaki District on August 9” was published. As the title indicates, defense policy and measures against further atomic bomb attacks were given top priority (see Chapter 6).
Furthermore, Nishida Kikuo and Sakamaki Takashi, technical officers in the Kure Naval Arsenal, submitted a report on the result of investigations as of August 14, 1945, the first investigation conducted by military personnel. The report included information on the actions of enemy aircraft, the situation on the day of the atomic bombing, indications of the atomic bombing before the explosion, location of the hypocenter, injuries and damages caused by the blast, the condition of burn injuries, fires, and surveys of damages in the city of Nagasaki. The focus of the investigation seems to have been similar to that of the above-mentioned initial status investigation (see Chapter 7).
In addition, on August 13 and 14, Shinohara Kenichi, professor of physics at Kyūshū Imperial University, visited Nagasaki to investigate the effects of radiation. Dr. Nishina Yoshio of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) also visited Nagasaki on August 14 for surveys and inspection.
The launch of full-fledged investigations was delayed by the chaos and confusion after the atomic bombing, but a few academic groups conducted investigations, including clinical studies by Professor Sawada of the department of internal medicine at Kyūshū Imperial University Medical School and studies by the department of radiological therapy, the department of pathology and Professor Enjōji of the same institution; studies by Professors Kameda and Suzue of the departments of radiology and pathology at Kumamoto Medical College; and clinical studies by the department of pathology at Yamaguchi Prefectural Medical College. All of those studies were conducted from late August to late September 1945 in the makeshift hospital established at Shinkōzen Elementary School. Moreover, Nagasaki Commercial College, which was serving as the 216th Commissary Hospital of the Western Army District, accommodated autopsies by the Kyūshū Imperial University Medical School Department of Pathology from August 28 to September 6.
In the field of physics, Professor Shinohara Kenichi of the Kyūshū Imperial University Department of Physics collected soil samples near the hypocenter on August 13 and 14. On the basis of radioactivity in the samples, he confirmed that the destruction in Nagasaki had been caused by an atomic bomb. Moreover, he conducted another detailed investigation regarding radioactivity from around September 10. Agricultural studies were also conducted by a technologist named Dr. Hasegawa from the Kyūshū branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Agricultural Experiment Station and by Professors Matsunaga and Satō of the departments of agriculture and forestry experiment station at Kyūshū Imperial University.
The need for a comprehensive scientific investigation became clear in the wake of the initial university studies revealing the magnitude of the atomic bomb destruction and the generation of high levels of radiation. Another contributing factor was the project to record the devastation caused by the atomic bombs on film. On September 14, 1945, the Ministry of Education established the Special Committee for Investigation of Atomic Bomb Damages within the Scientific Research Council of Japan.
The aim of the committee was to obtain comprehensive information on the effects of the atomic bombs by mobilizing Japanese specialists in all the relevant fields of study. The surveys and research were to include studies to determine the points of explosion in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and levels of radiant heat and residual radiation.
The committee was launched on September 14, 1945 (first meeting held on October 24), but the actual work commenced in each field from the end of September into October and continued for a three-year period ending in March 1948. However, most of the essential studies apparently reached completion by March 1946. The investigations on subjects such as the points of explosion of the atomic bombs and levels of radiant heat and residual radiation were also completed in the above period.
Chaired by Dr. Hayashi Haruo, professor emeritus of Tōkyō Imperial University, the committee consisted of the following nine subcommittees: 1) physics, chemistry and geology (leader: Professor Nishikawa Masaharu, Tōkyō Imperial University); 2) biological science (leader: Professor Okada Kaname, Tōkyō Imperial University); 3) mechanical engineering and metallurgy (leader: Professor Naoshima Masaichi, Tōkyō Imperial University); 4) electrical telecommunication engineering (leader: Professor Setō Shōji, Tōkyō Imperial University); 5) civil engineering (leader: Professor Tanaka Yutaka, Tōkyō Imperial University); 6) medicine (leader: Professor Tsuzuki Masao, Tōkyō Imperial University) 7) agriculture and fishery (leader: Professor Amamiya Ikusaku, Tōkyō Imperial University); 8) forestry (leader: Professor Miura Ihachirō, Tōkyō Imperial University); and 9) veterinary and livestock science (leader: Professor Masui Kiyoshi, Tōkyō Imperial University).
The unprecedented nature of the atomic bombing and the chaos ensuing after the end of the war meant unimaginable tribulations and even death for those engaged in investigations and research. The results of the mammoth undertaking were published in August 1951 in the form of a summary report by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and in May 1953 as a full two-volume report (1,642 pages) entitled "Atomic Bomb Casualty Investigation Report" by the Science Council of Japan. Those publications are still used as invaluable sources in the respective fields.
Moreover, the following notification indicates that the Occupation Forces placed various restrictions on atomic bomb investigations and research as well as on the publication of findings.
Academic Research Council Bulletin No. 936
December 11, 1945
Academic Research Council
Atomic bombing Disaster Investigation and Special Research Committee
President Hayashi Haruo
Regarding Atomic Bomb Investigations and Research
With regard to the topic of the title, a reporting session of the special committee was held on the 30th of the previous month, at which time the Allied Forces gave us official notice that investigations and research on the atomic bombings required the permission of Allied Occupation authorities. Since such a situation could significantly hinder Japan’s future investigations and research on the atomic bombings, committee member Dr. Tsuzuki Masao persisted in negotiations and managed to get a green light from the Allied Forces, on the condition that Japan would never try to develop atomic bombs. However, the Allied authorities stipulated that scientific papers and reports issuing from the special committee should not be printed until an official announcement by the United States (expected in January or February next year).
Oral presentations in symposia and workshops are permitted. We would appreciate it if all of you could take this into consideration and convey the above to all the other people concerned.
The destruction of Nagasaki Medical College and its attached hospital, the core facility of medical treatment and research in Nagasaki, presented a formidable obstacle to early medical studies. College President Dr. Tsuno'o Susumu had been killed along with more than 850 staff members and students and the college buildings lay in ruins, thus effectively ruling out the possibility of any studies into the medical effects of the bombing. The physicians and nurses who had managed to survive engaged in relief activities in suburban areas such as the Nameshi Relief Station, Mitsuyama district and Shinkōzen Temporary Hospital, and it was not until October 5 that medical examinations and lectures resumed at the former Ōmura Naval Hospital.
The first investigation by Nagasaki Medical College, conducted from early October to December by Professor Shirabe Raisuke and his staff of about 50 surviving physicians and students, focused on a total of 8,007 cases including 6,691 survivors and 1,316 deaths. Professor Shirabe, who spent more than one year analyzing the resulting data, published his findings in a report entitled Nagasaki ni okeru genshibakudan shōgai no tōkeiteki kansatsu (“Statistical Observations of Atomic Bomb Injuries in Nagasaki”). Censorship by the Occupation Forces, however, prevented the report from reaching the public.
Investigations into the effects of the atomic bombs were launched by the United States almost concurrently with those of the Special Committee for Investigation of Atomic Bomb Damages, and in the same way several groups of specialists were dispatched to conduct detailed surveys in each specific field.
The first to arrive in Nagasaki was the Special Manhattan Engineer District Investigation Group consisting of about 30 scientists led by Brigadier General Thomas Farrell and including a medical team and an engineering team. The primary mission of that first group, which collected information in Nagasaki from mid-September to early October, was to carry out a preliminary study on the effects of the atomic bomb and to determine, for the safety of the occupying American troops, the levels of residual radiation.
The next group of investigators to visit Nagasaki from the U.S. was a party of the Naval Medical Technology Investigation Group called the “Navtac Jap Team.” That team, based at Ōmura, was engaged in investigations in Nagasaki for three months from late September to late November.
Led by military physician Colonel Stafford L. Warren, the team undertook investigations into the physiological impact of the atomic bombing. In addition, one group belonging to this team engaged exclusively in radioactivity measurements in Nagasaki. Another army medical group arrived in Nagasaki on September 30 to engage in investigations into the medical impact of the atomic bombing. Medical officer Colonel Ashley Oughterson took responsibility for planning the army medical group.
Great Britain also dispatched an atomic bomb investigation group in November 1945. The group investigated the impact of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and presented a report on its findings in 1946.
The Japanese government reached an agreement for a medical team to cooperate in the American investigation activities, and the first meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Commission was held in Tōkyō on September 22, 1945. About 90 personnel from institutions including Tōkyō Imperial University, Kyūshū Imperial University, Nagasaki Medical College and Ōmura Naval Hospital were selected to participate in the Nagasaki research group. The principal aims of the investigation were 1) to determine the nature of radiation sickness, 2) to calculate the number of atomic bomb victims by level of injury, in relation to distance from the hypocenter and extent of shielding, and 3) to assess the status of defenses (at the time of the atomic bombing).
The investigations commenced in Nagasaki from late September using Ōmura Naval Hospital and Shinkōzen Relief Hospital as bases. The leaders on the U.S. and Japanese side were Dr. George V. LeRoy and Professor Urabe Miyoshi of Tōkyō Imperial University, respectively.
The American scientists completed their investigations in December 1945 and carried the huge files of information to the United States along with photographs and other materials collected from the Japanese. It was not until May 1973 that the materials preserved in the U.S. Army Institute of Pathology were finally returned to Japan.
The United States conducted a comprehensive investigation called the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) in addition to the various scientific surveys concerning the effects of the atomic bombs. More strategic than scientific in nature, the survey was planned as a way to forge the basis for the future defense policy of the United States by evaluating the effects of air raids on Japan during World War II.
The USSBS team had been organized by the U.S. Army in November 1944 to investigate the effects of bombing on Germany, but when Japan surrendered in August the following year, President Truman called for a similar investigation concerning the various effects of air raids on Japan and ordered the related bodies to report their findings to the Department of War and the Department of the Navy. The survey team was massive in scale, consisting of 1,150 persons including 300 civilian officials, 350 military officers and 500 enlisted men led by the civilian Franklin D'Olier. The head office was set up in Tōkyō, with branch offices in Nagoya, Ōsaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Conducted from September 1945 to early 1946, the survey covered the entire Japanese archipelago, the Pacific islands, and parts of continental Asia.
The team interviewed or requested information from more than 700 former Japanese soldiers, government officials and industry personnel. Focusing on Nagasaki from late October to the end of November, the investigations were meticulous, thoroughgoing and efficient to the extreme.
The mass of collected information was carried to the United States and organized into a final report roughly divided into the European War Area and the Pacific War Area. The latter was composed of 108 sub-reports. The sub-reports directly relating to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki are listed below, in numerical order.
No. 3: The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
No. 5: Field Report Covering Air-Raid Protection and Allied Subjects in Nagasaki, Japan
No. 13: The Effects of Atomic Bombs on Health and Medical Institutions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
No. 14: The Effects of Strategic Bombing on Japanese Morale
No. 59: The Effects of Air Attacks on the City of Nagasaki
No. 93: Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki, Japan
Although technically sophisticated and remarkably accurate in its assessment of the damages inflicted on Japan, the report that resulted from those efforts was used exclusively as a reference for American defense policy. Very few Japanese ever saw it, and only a tiny segment was translated by the Japanese Defense Agency and other government bodies and made available to the public at the National Diet Library.
The municipal government of Nagasaki learned later that the report was preserved in the National Archives in Washington D.C. along with a trove of other relevant information, and in 1974 it joined Hiroshima in sending a team of officials to the United States to obtain copies. The documents brought back to Japan were painstakingly translated from English to Japanese by volunteers in the two cities, paving the way for the first scrutiny of the contents of the report in this country. The rest of the translation was entrusted to the Bilingual Group Co. in Tōkyō as part of the Nagasaki Commemorative Project on the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing. The results were published in two volumes in March 1996.
The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Report No. 93, entitled “Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki, Japan”:
Many accounts, often fantastic and sometimes hysterical, have been written about the power of the atomic bomb. Presented in this report are scientific facts, supported by figure drawings and photographs, which have been derived from a methodical appraisal on the ground, conducted by experts in several fields. Only the shortness of time and the obliteration of evidence have interposed some limitations. 93
A variety of other investigations have been conducted, but the fact is that very few authoritative, organized Japanese studies were conducted until well after the atomic bombings and there are innumerable gaps in knowledge of the impact of the bombings on the two cities and, indeed, on the world.
A motion picture documenting the effects of the atomic bombings was produced by Nippon Eigasha Co. in close concert with the scientific investigations conducted by the Special Committee for Research on Atomic Bomb Damages.
When it became clear that atomic bombs had caused the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nippon Eigasha Co. forged plans to produce documentary films recording the reality of nuclear destruction and to use them to appeal to the international committee of the Red Cross Society in Geneva about the inhumanity of the American bombardment. The plan was halted, however, by the chaos at the end of World War II and by the arrival of the Occupation Forces. When filming finally became possible in September, the company requested scientific advice and cooperation from Dr. Nishina Yoshio of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research. That request sparked the establishment of the Special Committee for Investigation of Atomic Bomb Damages, and as it turned out the committee played a vital role in the supervision of filming.
At a meeting held on September 15 at the Ministry of Education, Nippon Eigasha Co. received acknowledgement as an official arm of the investigation team. The production staff of about 30 persons broke into four teams in charge of physics, medicine, biology and civil engineering. Itō Sueo was the first member of the crew to enter Nagasaki. Filming began in Nagasaki on September 16 and reached full momentum in October with the arrival one after another of members of the Ministry of Education's scientific research team. On October 17, however, an assistant cameraman was stopped and questioned by American military police while working near the hypocenter, and two days later General Headquarters (GHQ-SCAP) issued a ban on filming.
Some 30 years later, in June 1975, Nagasaki City invited three members of the original film crew to a round table discussion. The following is an excerpt from the discussion:
Although two months had already passed since the atomic bombing, the northern part of the city remained a vast field of rubble and more rubble, an uninhabited wasteland where, except for the provisional road running north and south, there was no one to ask for information and nothing of any particular shape or form to photograph.
We set up a tripod near the site of present-day Peace Park and took a 360-degree pan shot of the area, then filmed similar footage at 500-meter intervals using a map of the former city as a guide.
Wandering about the scorched rubble in this way for more than a month, we began to understand the colossal power generated by the atomic bomb. The ravaged state of buildings was particularly astonishing. When we filmed children with burns, we would usually return two or three days later to find that they had died.
The lack of food severely inhibited our activities. Strong legs are essential to a cameraman's work, but we were often so hungry that we could not lift one foot ahead of the other.
In the midst of that situation, one of our crew was arrested on October 17 by Occupation MPs and taken to headquarters for questioning. As a result we were ordered to immediately suspend filming and to return to Tōkyō. Although unaware of the official source of the order, we had no choice but to curtail our filming activities. The filming crew left Nagasaki on October 27 or 28, and the Ministry of Education's scientific research team was also forced to suspend its investigations there.
Then, on December 18, Nippon Eigasha Co. was ordered by GHQ to submit all the films shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Later, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey and Nippon Eigasha Co. agreed to conduct additional filming and continued to record the physical damages that had still not been filmed in Nagasaki. The work was conducted from December through to January 25, 1946, the year after the atomic bombing. The films were edited by Nippon Eigasha Co. under the strict supervision of a movie team from the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS). The 19 completed volumes were entitled “Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” However, despite all the efforts poured into the project, the films were flown to the United States immediately after a preview on May 4, and no one other than a few people in Japan were able to view them.
In April 1968, 23 years after the preview, the footage was finally returned to Japan and released to the public. However, about 13 minutes had been deleted from the section of the film dealing with the human body in order to protect the rights of the people in the film, causing strong demands for a full-version release.
93 The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki, Japan (Volume 1, Physical Damage Division, June 1947) ^