BBC ‘unluckiest’ take on double hibakusha hit

LONDON (Kyodo) The Japanese Embassy in London has lodged a written protest targeting the BBC and a TV production agency, arguing they insulted a deceased Japanese man who survived the atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, embassy and other sources said Thursday.

In the popular quiz show, “QI,” broadcast by the BBC in December, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, whose story as a double hibakusha is well-known and who died last January at age 93, was introduced as “The Unluckiest Man in the World,” to laughter from the show’s TV celebrities and audience.

According to the embassy, it sent the BBC and the production agency a letter Jan. 7, saying it is inappropriate and “insensitive” to characterize Yamaguchi in such a way. No response had been received as of Thursday.

A video clip from the program has been posted on YouTube, drawing dozens of mixed comments.

A producer of the show has already apologized to people who sent protest e-mails, noting “we greatly regret it when we cause offense” and “it is apparent to me that I underestimated the potential sensitivity of this issue to Japanese viewers.”

But the producer added the program has featured the tragic experiences of Americans and Europeans in a similar manner.

Born in Nagasaki, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip when the city was hit with an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, and had returned home to Nagasaki before the second A-bomb struck three days later.

Yamaguchi’s daughter, Toshiko Yamasaki, 62, who lives in Nagasaki, blasted the BBC for the way it portrayed her father’s story.

“In fact, we have made jokes within our family saying Dad had bad luck” to help ease his feelings, she said. “But this is absolutely a different story, with Britain, a country that possesses nuclear weapons, making fun of him.”