Dr. James Yamazaki will receive PSR-LA’s 2008 Socially Responsible Medicine Award for his lifelong work on the effects of radiation on public health.
While his parents were interned in an American concentration camp, Dr. Yamazaki served as a World War II combat surgeon in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war. After the war, at the age of 33, the US government asked Dr. Yamazaki to head the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. From 1949 to 1951, he worked with children in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and with Marshall Islanders who suffered from American postwar nuclear testing. His research focused on the effects of radiation on fetuses, and as his team had predicted, devastating abnormalities were seen in babies who were yet unborn when the bombs hit, and numerous mothers experienced still-births or miscarriages.
Upon his return to the US, Dr. Yamazaki continued his dedicated research on the effects of radiation on children, became a clinical professor of pediatrics at UCLA, and maintained a pediatric practice. With his unwavering commitment towards creating a more peaceful world, he has continued to testify to government commissions to promote nuclear disarmament, and has also continued to follow the effects of nuclear radiation on generations of families in Japan throughout his career.
Dr. Yamazaki is the author of Children of the Atomic Bomb: An American Physician’s Memoir of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and the Marshall Islands. In this book, he recounts in personal terms the specific vulnerability of children to the effects of nuclear warfare, and makes his impassioned plea for peace.
In partnership with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, Dr. Yamazaki has established a website that provides an eyewitness report about his experiences in Japan and the US from his perspective as the lead physician of the US Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in post-war Nagasaki. Visit this innovative websiteChildrenoftheAtomicBomb.com to view exclusive video interviews of Dr. Yamazaki, rare family archival images, and drawings and paintings by atomic bomb survivors.
For additional information about the project and ways to be involved in the call to save the world’s children, please contact Don Nakanishi, Director and Professor of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.825.2974.