Sunday, May 29, 2016

the last book I ever read (Susan Southard's Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, excerpt seven)

from Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard:

Do-oh was not alone. Although public opposition to the ABC was suppressed by occupation censorship, within the highly sensitive medical, political, and economic climate in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, hibakusha anger toward the ABCC intensified. At a time when hibakusha were just beginning to come to terms with their identities as the only victims of atomic warfare in human history, the Americans who dropped the bombs imposed on them a disturbing new identity as research specimens for the U.S. government. Many survivors hated being studied by doctors from the country that had irradiated them. The ABCC also transgressed cultural boundaries with invasive and intimidating procedures, by examining young people like Do-oh in the nude, collecting blood and semen samples, and taking photographs of survivors’ atomic bomb injuries. Other social and economic oversights alienated survivors: Polished waiting room floors were slippery for women wearing geta; English-only magazines were placed in the waiting rooms; and the ABCC insisted that examinations take place during the day, resulting in loss of pay for those who worked. Even the word “examination” seemed objectifying to many.

The largest complaint, however, was that the ABCC conducted medical examinations without also offering medical care. What Do-oh and other hibakusha didn’t know was that the ABCC’s mission to conduct detailed studies of survivors’ radiation-related illnesses included a strict mandate to provide them no medical treatment. As hibakusha became aware of this directive, many felt even more dehumanized, and they experienced powerful feelings of being used by the United States as guinea pigs in a military experiment. Some also resented the ABCC’s no-treatment policy in light of the shortage of medicine and medical equipment available in Japan after the war, contrasted with the millions of dollars that poured into the ABCC. In the United States, activist Norman Cousins praised the ABCC’s work as both excellent and important, but he openly criticized the agency for what he saw as a “strange spectacle of a man suffering from [radiation] sickness getting thousands of dollars’ worth of analysis but not one cent of treatment from the Commission.”

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