Sixteen hours after the first use of a nuclear weapon in history, President Harry Truman revealed to the world that “the force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.” Truman added that if Japan did not surrender it would experience a “rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had killed approximately 70,000 to 80,000 people and injured more than 70,000, tens of thousands of whom would later die as a result of the radiation they were exposed to.
Meanwhile, in Nagasaki, Yamaguchi went to the Mitsubishi company hospital for treatment on August 8. He arrived during an air raid alert and almost all of the hospital staff there had sought safety in underground shelters. However, one doctor remained, an ophthalmologist named Dr. Sato, a former schoolmate of Yamaguchi’s. Sato treated his injuries as best he could, by cutting away the outer layers of dead skin, before sterilizing and bandaging his wounds. After his treatment, Yamaguchi went home and when his mother first saw him, all covered in bandages, she thought that he was a ghost. Later that day Yamaguchi reunited with his wife Hisako and their infant son Katsutoshi.
Remarkably, Yamaguchi reported for work the following day, August 9, where he met with the company director, who did not believe his accounts of the utter destruction caused by a single bomb. As the director was speaking, Yamaguchi noticed another intense flash of white light outside the window of the office. He instinctively threw himself to the ground. Seconds later, a 22-kiloton plutonium bomb called “Fat Man” exploded. “Fat Man” was erroneously believed to be named after Winston Churchill, however, it was confirmed later by the physicist who named it, Howard Serber, that it was named that simply because of its shape.
Approximately 40,000 people were killed and tens of thousands more were injured in Nagasaki. As was the case in Hiroshima, thousands of the injured would later die from the injuries they sustained. Yet, Yamaguchi miraculously survived, again. Although the bandages which had covered his body had been blown off by the shockwave, he escaped with only minor injuries, cuts and bruises.
However, the radiation he had once more been exposed to would leave him feverishly ill for over a week. He also could not seek any medical treatment as the hospital where he had been treated earlier had been destroyed by the bomb. Yamaguchi set out to look for his wife and son, whom he discovered had also both survived. Yamaguchi, together with his family, huddled into a bomb shelter behind his house for over a week.
During that week he suffered from a high fever as a result of radiation poisoning. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender. All around Yamaguchi, people were crying. Yamaguchi admitted later that during the war that he had become so despondent that he had considered killing his family with an overdose of sleeping pills if Japan lost the war. However, when Japan finally surrendered, having survived both atomic bombings, Yamaguchi later said that he had no feeling about it, that he was neither happy or sad.