Think about Hiroshima ( A Review of Hiroshima 60th Anniversary)July 8, 2011
You might feel scared a few months ago when CNN broadcasted about severe situations of Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant following the Tohoku earthquake almost every day. Serious discussions about nuclear energy were suddenly exploded in the United States, and it gave us a chance to think about “nuclear” again. Since we encountered “nuclear” for the first time, it has been more than 60 years. Although politicians have manifested that nuclear is a clean energy, safety is not 100% assured once an accident happens. Indeed, people almost forget about the fact that nuclear power was originally invented for weaponry purpose but not for utility purpose.
It was people in Hiroshima/ Nagasaki who were the first human being ever exposed to nuclear radiation in history. In August in 1945, they were exposed to nuclear radiation without any physical protection. For others, the decision to bomb Hiroshima/ Nagasaki might seem right since Japan was persistent and stubborn to surrender. It might be right at that moment for the US and the world to end the war. Japanese might be the bad guys, and both the US and Japan sides might lose more lives without atomic bombs. But, the decision should never be justified. People who justify the decision and the event are those who have never understood pain of survivors. Hiroshima 60th Anniversary does not directly tell you how inhumane using nuclear weapons against human are; however, you will see intentions that led the US government to make the choice.
The Manhattan Project, which created the horrible weapons, started three years before Hiroshima/Nagasaki. The story begins when exiled European scientists suggested the US government to develop nuclear weapons in fear of Germany. Thus, the project was originally launched against Germany. The project involved not only a number of scientists, engineers, and politicians but also a huge investment. In history, “nuclear” is one of the great inventions judging from a purely scientific view, and the potential of its use is high despite its dangerous characteristics. In July, 1945, Nuclear weapons, which took USD 20 billion and three years, were completed. However, Germany had already lost the war. Now what? Only Japan was left, and the United States had a good reason to attack Japan with the phrase, Remember the Perl Harbor”. According to the 2009 Quinnipiac University National Poll, about 60% of American voters think bombing Hiroshima was the right thing to do. Can you really say so after you know the real situation behind?
In April, 1945, Japan started preparing to surrender and negotiating with the Soviet Union. Although the Japanese government was divided into two groups at that time, conditional surrender was the common goal. When the US government knew the fact, they immediately cut off all lines between the central government and embassies and councils outside. This operation was called “Magic Intercepts”. The US government did not have an intention to give Japan conditional surrender. In any case, Japan loses. To lead the next world, they needed to show their absolute power to the world. They did not want Soviet Union to be a co-occupier of Japan or a double leader of the world. To end the war, bombing Hiroshima/Nagasaki was not necessary. In the film, General Eisenhower testified so. But it was necessary for showing their capability to end the war and giving threats of nuclear weapons to the world.
Therefore, the selection of the cities was carefully made. Such as topography, the city size, and strength of the buildings were taken into account to know accurate power of nuclear weapons. Hiroshima and Ogura (Nagasaki) were selected in the end, and shell bombing for the cities was stopped for a while. Then, as you know, 6th and 9th of August became the X day. Do you know both bombing were done in the morning? Especially, the time when atomic bomb was dropped the city of Hiroshima was 8:15am. Yes, this was the very time when people go to office or school. That is to say, a number of people got directly exposed to nuclear radiation, blast, and excessive heat released from the bomb.
I personally contacted a survivor from Hiroshima, Keiko Murakami. Her testimony (5 series) is on YouTube, and I highly recommend you to watch those if you understand Japanese. As she testifies, people who exposed to heat and radiation died off one after another. Some of you may say she is lucky because she survived. Then, you do not know how much survivors have suffered. Both mentally and physically, being survivors is by no means a lucky thing. After Hiroshima/Nagasaki, survivors were treated like a guinea pig. ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) was established in Hiroshima by the US government; however, ABCC never treated patient. Data, they took from the survivors, was used as a measurement of radiation effects, and the world today was built up on the research and Hiroshima/Nagasaki experiment.
We are the one who has created the today’s world. While declaring to create the world without nuclear, we cannot live without them. We should realize having treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is regrettable. Today, the day when Hiroshima was bombed called “Peace Day” (August 6th), and 66th Peace Day is coming within a month. Although the day was a product from negative legacy, people have been fighting for peace. When will the world receive wish from Hiroshima/Nagasaki? Please think about Hiroshima again.
“Bombing Hiroshima Was Right, Amercian Voters Say 3-1, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds” 4 August 2009. Quinnipiac University. Web. 7 July 2011. <http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1295.xml?ReleaseID=1356>.
Hiroshima 60th Anniversary. The History Channel. 2005. DVD.
Itou, Akihiko. “Voice of survivors-from the shores of a river(1)/ Keiko Murakami” 02 October 2010. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed on 8 July 2011. ( This source in Japanese)
Hiroshima Speaks Out. http://h-s-o.net/eng/
MPT Intern-Mari Shibahara-