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Sunao Tsuboi, Hiroshima survivor who met Obama during 2016 visit, dies at 96

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Sunao Tsuboi, Hiroshima survivor who met Obama during 2016 visit, dies at 96
Sunao Tsuboi (R) shakes the hand of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 27, 2016. Tsuboi died on Sunday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Sunao Tsuboi, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II who became a lifelong activist opposed to nuclear weapons, died this week at age 96.

A Japanese group of survivors of the 1945 atomic attack said Tsuboi died on Sunday at a hospital in Hiroshima. The group said Tsuboi died of an irregular heartbeat related to anemia.

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Tsuboi was 20 years old when the U.S. bomb fell onto his city on Aug. 6, 1945. It was the first of two atomic bombs that the United States dropped on the country, which accelerated the surrender of Japan and the end of the war.

Debris of a science museum is seen in Hiroshima, Japan, shortly after the U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. UPI File Photo

Tsuboi was seriously burned by the bomb, lost part of one ear and spent more than a month unconscious in the hospital. When he awoke, World War II was over and he campaigned for the rest of his life against the nuclear threat.

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In 2016, he met U.S. President Barack Obama during an event in Hiroshima marking the atomic attack and later praised the American leader for the visit, which occurred during a Group of Seven summit in Japan.

"I held his hand, and we didn't need an interpreter," Tsuboi said after meeting Obama. "I could understand what he wanted to say by his expression."

Tsuboi became a teacher and continued to share his experience for decades. After retiring, he visited nearly two dozen countries to share his story.

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