Hiroshima 広島 - 65 Years.

= It’s been a year since I wrote what I wrote below, on August 5th in the U.S., August 6 in Japan, 2010.  I write this at 9:07 a.m. on August 6, 2011.  I’m in Tokyo now.  Just got back from a long, hot & humid walk down Kokkai Dori (Diet/Parliament Street), through Hibiya Park.  Anyway, it’s been years since I’ve been in Japan on August 6. =

.          .          .

I write this at about 5:45 p.m. U.S. Central Time on August 5, 2010.  In about 30 minutes it will be 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 2010, in Japan — 65 years to the moment after the first use of an atomic bomb on, over, at, to, a city and its people.  Three days later, one more detonated over Nagasaki.

Last year I worked up two (2) Front Page posts regarding Hiroshima, including several photos taken when I was there in May 2008, guiding a group of University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) history students through Hiroshima.  I don’t think I need to really add to those.  So I’ll merely cite & link them here:

A Moment for Hiroshima

Which actually goes back to my first full day “on the job” in Japan on August 6, 1990, and . . .

July 16, 1945,

. . . wherein I talk a bit about that May 2008 trip to Hiroshima (only my second time there).

Of course, both of the above contain photos, including this one:

Middle School Student. Hiroshima Peace Park Museum. May 16, 2008.

.     .     .

Several months ago I posted a piece here on hotels I’ve stayed at in Japan which included this, a sentimental favorite of mine, from Hiroshima.  The hotel from which I took this photo was the ANA Crown Plaza.  Sixty-five years ago (or 63 years before the photo was snapped) it would have been just about exactly under where the bomb detonated.

.

It’s now 5:59 Central Time in the U.S.  In 16 minutes it will be 8:15 a.m., August 6, in Hiroshima.

    • Richard Tullie “Trial Lawyer Richard”
    • August 6th, 2010

    Since we have blogged as Trial Lawyer Richard and BenGoshi, I’ll address you as BenGoshi.

    BenGoshi: I had a heated discussion today about Hiroshima. It is a subject about which I am very conflicted. The person, right out of the box, said “Truman was a War Criminal.” I explained the tough decision (as I perceived it) that he had to make. I also explained that I had seen horrible pictures at a very young age of the Radiation Damage to the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (from a Father’s Friend who took them for the U.S. Army). My point was that Truman was faced with a daunting invasion of the Home Islands of Japan. After Iwo Jima and Okinawa it was obvious that every foot of ground would take many American Lives. Truman feared that America would lose hundreds of thousands of Soldiers in the Invasion, maybe more. Faced with that he decided to drop the bombs. Do I hate Nuclear Weapons? Absolutely. Do I have empathy, sorrow and sadness for the victims in Japan? Of course. I don’t, however, dismiss Truman’s decision off hand and I don’t label him as a “War Criminal.” He was a War President doing what he thought he had to.

    BenGoshi: Any words of wisdom on this?

    Trial Lawyer Richard

      • letsjapan
      • August 7th, 2010

      TLRicard.

      I’ll go a little bit out on a limb here (not with my belief, but expressing it rather adamantly here) and self-quote: I wrote this in another forum yesterday.

      The war could’ve been ended even sooner than Aug 14 (when Japan communicated to the Allied Powers that it would accept the Potsdam Terms) had the US dropped the bomb over Tokyo Bay in the evening of Aug 6, rather than over Hiroshima. One of the problems with dropping it on Hiroshima (and anybody who’s been to Japan, let alone who’s lived there knows) is that Hiroshima’s rather far away from Tokyo and once the bomb was dropped communications between Hiroshima and Tokyo were severed and only sketchy (and often inaccurate) reports were filtering back to Tokyo over the next couple of days… then Nagasaki (even *further* away from Tokyo, and on Kyushu island) was bombed on the 9th.

      At any rate, an “Demonstration Bombing” was contemplated and rejected. The main reason I’ve heard is that if it flopped it would’ve emboldened those elements of the Japanese Cabinet who wanted to continue the war even more. A bogus argument: had the bomb been dropped over Tokyo Bay and been a dud it would’ve sunk to the bottom of the Bay and no one in Japan would’ve been the wiser. Had the bomb been a dud over Hiroshima it would’ve crashed into *land*, been reconstructed by Japanese scientists and (1) they’d have figured out the full extent of the American flop, plus (2) would’ve had a decent prototype/model of a nuclear device — not exactly what one wants to put into enemy hands.

      Hiroshima had not been bombed during the war. It was “virgin territory.” Plus it’s ringed by mountains — to contain and enhance the blast effects. It was a great place to test the effects on a human population since Osaka and Nagoya had been pounded into such rubble, being able to distinguish which effects were caused by the A Bomb and which were already part of “the scene.”

      I would note that another city that had not been touched and was ringed by mountains: Kyoto. But quickly scholars (yep, pointy-headed academics) whom the War Dept consulted with (back in the day . . . ) quickly recoiled at the thought of obliterating Kyoto and about 1,300 years of Japanese history, so Kyoto was taken of the possible target list.

      A brief, but good, synopsis of the weeks and days leading up to Japan’s surrender: http://www.worldwar2database.com/html/japansurrender.htm

    • Richard Tullie “Trial Lawyer Richard”
    • August 7th, 2010

    BenGoshi: Thanks for responding to my post. Every time I think about Hiroshima I think of the Japanese Girl folding the Paper Cranes. What a beautiful and sad story.

      • letsjapan
      • August 7th, 2010

      Here’s the Wiki link for the Children’s Monument. Elementary and Middle School classes from around Japan (and the world) send their 1,000 Cranes here to be displayed (in plexiglass cases). They’re (the 1,000 Cranes) tended to and rotated by Peace Park attendants.

      R.

    • Tim Cook
    • August 6th, 2012

    The war could have ended quite a bit sooner than that. The Japanese were assuming that the Allied demand of “unconditional surrender” meant the Emperor would be executed and the line extending all the way from misty Yamato antiquity obliterated. Even the doves within the government — and they were there risking their lives for peace — even they could not accept such a stipulation. The thing is that, from intercepted cables throughout the summer of 1945, the U.S. knew that this assumption was being made and they didn’t do anything to clarify it. You could say it was Hiroshima and Nagasaki that made the Japanese surrender, but even then, it was only after the U.S. finally offered vague statements that could be interpreted to mean that the Emperor could stay. At least the Emperor himself interpreted them that way, which was enough for the peace wing to make their dangerous move against the war thugs and end it. The Emperor, by the way, was in danger of being assassinated by the military for making peace overtures as early as late May after the worst of the Tokyo firebombings. So if the Emperor thing was holding up the surrender, and the U.S. knew it, why didn’t they just work out something earlier? Reading between the lines, I just have to wonder if the whole atomic bomb project hadn’t worked itself into a foregone conclusion, like war with Iraq, to the point that facts didn’t matter anymore. So much work had gone into the atomic bomb and the U.S. military was very eager to use it. If they didn’t get to use it, all that effort would have been wasted. This kind of momentum is very difficult to stop. Hiroshima wasn’t the only city set aside for this. There were several other that hadn’t been touched in the war because they were saving them for dessert. (Kyoto was taken off the list, but not because of any high-minded institutional wisdom in the military — Secretary of War Henry Stimpson honeymooned there many decades earlier and he just liked it, so he personally delisted it and it was replaced with Nagasaki.) Not to demonize Truman or his people for their ways of thinking in the thick of war, but their claim that they saved lives is way open for critique. If they had ended this sooner, or rather, allowed the Japanese to end it sooner, of course it would have saved even more lives on both sides. And it would have kept the Soviets at bay, another of the stated reasons for nuking Japan. The surrender came in time to keep the Soviets out of Japan, but not out of Japanese-controlled Manchuria and Korea, which the Soviets invaded just as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were taking their turns at obliteration. If Japan was no longer at war, the Soviets would have lost their pretense to invade those two places, in which case it’s not at all a stretch to think that both the communist takeover of China and the Korean War could both have been avoided. And had not the Americans been so fixated on The Bomb, perhaps the Soviets wouldn’t have been so fixated on acquiring it.

    Sorry if you didn’t intend for all this blather here and now. I just read the above comments seriously is all.

    Tim

      • letsjapan
      • August 6th, 2012

      Thanks for this, Tim. I’ve been watching the JPL live feed on Curiosity’s EDL. Science, 67 years later, to the day, for peace and discovery…

      I’ll write more in the morning. Again, thank you for working-up, posting this.

      R.

  1. August 6th, 2010

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