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Hisashi Ouchi And Masato Shinohara―The Disturbing True Story Of Tokaimura Nuclear Accident!

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Hisashi Ouchi, a lab technician who becomes nation's worst nuclear radiation victim during an accident in a nuclear power plant in Japan. It is considered to be an extremely critical issue of the nuclear effect in our medical history, and he was said to be kept alive for 83 days in some experimental ways. A number of questions remain about the ethics surrounding his treatment, and the most significant one of them is, "Why was Hisashi Ouchi kept alive for 83 days against his will in such horrendous pain and suffering?"


The Second Tokaimura Nuclear Accident conveys the nuclear disaster which occurred on September 30, 1999, at 10:35am, resulting in two horrific nuclear deaths. It is one of the world's worst civilian nuclear radiation accidents that happened in a uranium fuel reprocessing plant operated by Japan Nuclear Fuel Conversion Co. (JCO) located at Tokai village of Naka District, in Japan.

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The Tokaimura JCO nuclear plant
Three lab workers, Hisashi Ouchi, 35 years old, Yutaka Yokokawa, 54 years old, and Masato Shinohara, 39 years old, were working at the lab on that day. Hisashi and Masato together preparing a measurable batch of nuclear-fuel by adding uranium solution to the precipitation tanks. Due to lack of experience, they had mistakenly added an excessive quantity of uranium (about 16kg) to one of those tanks which reached to its critical condition. Eventually, in all of sudden, a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction started with an intense blue flash and the horrible accident took place.

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The Nuclear Lab At Tokai After The Accident
Unfortunately, Hisashi was the nearest one from the explosion who was injured most. He received 17 sieverts (Sv) of radiation while 50 mSv (1 Sv = 1000 mSv) is considered as the maximum permissible annual dose of radiation and 8 sieverts is considered as the mortal-dose. Whereas, Masato and Yutuka also received the fatal doses of 10 sieverts and 3 sieverts respectively. They all were immediately admitted to the Mito Hospital.

The JCO lab technician Hisashi Ouchi
Hisashi suffered 100% of serious burns, as well as most of his internal organs, were fully or partially damaged. Shockingly, the white blood cell count in his body was near to zero, destroying his whole immune system, and the fatal radiation also destroyed his DNA.

Nuclear Radiation Effect Inside Our Body: Inside the nucleus of our each body cell are microscopic bodies called chromosomes that are responsible for the function and reproduction of each cell in our body. Chromosomes are made of two large molecules or strands of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Nuclear radiation affects the atoms in our bodies by removing the electrons. This breaks the atom bonds in DNA, damaging them. If the DNA in the chromosome is damaged, the instructions that control the cell’s function and reproduction are also damaged and cells can’t replicate so they die. Those that can still replicate, create more mutated or damaged cells that create cancer.

The almost skinless, skeletal body of Hisashi was rapidly poisoning him, and despite several skin transplants, he continued to lose body fluids through the pores of his skin-burns that caused his blood pressure to be unstable. At a moment, Hisashi was bleeding from his eyes and his wife said that it looked like he was crying blood!


As Hisashi's condition worsened, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba, Chiba Prefecture, transferred him to the University of Tokyo Hospital, where he reportedly underwent the world’s first transfusion of peripheral stem cells so that the white blood cells could be begun to generate again in his body.

The Japan government gave a higher priority for Hisashi's critical case, as the result, a group of top medical experts was assembled from Japan and abroad to treat the poor condition of radiation affected Hisashi Ouchi. In the process, medics kept him alive by pumping huge amounts of blood and fluids into him on a daily basis and treating him with drugs especially imported from various foreign sources.

It has been reported that during the period of his treatment, Hisashi requested several times to release him from the unbearable pain and once he even said he would not want to be a guinea pig anymore!

But it was considered a matter of national dignity that put the special medical team under pressure. So that, despite Hisashi's will to die, doctors had made their utmost effort to keep him alive for 83 days. On the 59th day of his treatment, his heart stopped three times within just 49 minutes, that caused serious damages in his brain and kidneys. Doctors had took Hisashi on a total life support until he finally died on December 21, 1999, due to multi-organ failure.


Hisashi Ouchi is considered as the most nuclear radiation affected victim in the medical history, who spent the final 83 days of his life through the most painful inpatient condition.

On the other side, Masato Shinohara and Yutaka Yokokawa were still in the hospital and were fighting against their death. Later, Masato seemed to be getting better and he was even taken in his wheelchair to visit the hospital gardens on the New Year’s Day 2000. However, he later contracted pneumonia and his lungs were damaged by the radiation he received. Due to this, Masato was unable to speak in that days, so he had to write messages to nurses and his family. Some of the those containing pathetic words like “Mommy, please!”, etc. 

In the end, on April 27, 2000, Masato had also left this world due to multi-organ failure. Whereas, Yutaka luckily recovered after staying in the hospital for over six months and was released to get well at home.

There is a book titled "A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness" on this tragic incident where 'Hisashi Ouchi' has been called 'Hiroshi Ouchi.' However, this book documents the following 83 days of treatment until his passing, with detailed descriptions and explanations of the radiation poisoning.
Hisashi Ouchi And Masato Shinohara―The Disturbing True Story Of Tokaimura Nuclear Accident! Hisashi Ouchi And Masato Shinohara―The Disturbing True Story Of Tokaimura Nuclear Accident! Reviewed by Sourav Ghosh on January 19, 2018 Rating: 5