Paul Satoh

Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1936, Paul Satoh spent a happy childhood as the only child of a chemist and a homemaker. Satoh's extended family included an uncle who had studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his wife, a US-born Nikkei from Hawai'i who occasionally had received a "care pack from the United States" that she shared with the Satohs. Although the couple was not affected by the bomb as they were in Tokyo, one of Satoh's other aunts who was in Hiroshima died of radiation sickness. Satoh himself, too, was in Hiroshima as his family's house in Osaka was burned in an air raid early in 1945. Living in his relative's house in Koi, which was about six kilometer from the hypocenter, Satoh remembers hearing a "real big sound" at the moment of the explosion. His family decided to take refuge in his grandmother's house in the countryside, and as they walked through Hiroshima, they witnessed people dying on the street from severe burns and injuries. Many years later, his mother died of leukemia, while Satoh himself suffered from thyroid cancer. Immediately after the war, though, Satoh recalled only silence around the bomb, even as many of his classmates passed away because of the delayed radiation effect. He came to the United States in 1960 to study chemistry at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He married a Polish American woman who was his classmate, and experienced racial discrimination in the era when interracial marriages were still illegal in many US states. Satoh also found that his brother-in-law had worked as a maintenance crew for Enola Gay, the airplane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Satoh worked as a chemist in the for-profit sector, and he occasionally lectured at colleges on applied chemistry. Although he was not part of any US survivors' groups, he was interested in issues of nuclear weaponry and bomb victims. He has assisted research for a book written by his acquaintance about US prisoners of war who died of the bomb in Hiroshima in 1945.


Paul Satoh Interview — ddr-densho-1021-9
23-Aug-15. East Lansing, Michigan.
2:09:44 — 24 segments.
Paul Satoh