Hiroshima cannot be pardoned

This week we mark the 75th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m., the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima from an American Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the Enola Gay, flown by Colonel Paul Tibbets, directly killing at least 70,000 people, including thousands of Korean slave laborers. Fewer than 10% of the casualties were military. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought the total number of deaths to 90,000–166,000. The population before the bombing was around 345,000. About 70% of the city's buildings were destroyed, and another 7% severely damaged....
On the day of the nuclear strike (August 9, 1945) the population in Nagasaki was estimated to be 263,000, which consisted of 240,000 Japanese residents, 10,000 Korean residents, 2,500 conscripted Korean workers, 9,000 Japanese soldiers, 600 conscripted Chinese workers, and 400 Allied POWs. That day, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, commanded by Major Charles Sweeney, departed from Tinian's North Field just before dawn, this time carrying a plutonium bomb, code named "Fat Man." The primary target for the bomb was Kokura, with the secondary target being Nagasaki, if the primary target was too cloudy to make a visual sighting. When the plane reached Kokura at 9:44 a.m. (10:44 am. Tinian Time), the city was obscured by clouds and smoke, as the nearby city of Yahata had been firebombed on the previous day – the steel plant in Yahata also had their workforce intentionally set fire to containers of coal tar, to produce target-obscuring black smoke. Unable to make a bombing attack on visual due to the clouds and smoke and with limited fuel, the plane left the city at 10:30 a.m. for the secondary target. After 20 minutes, the plane arrived at 10:50 a.m. over Nagasaki, but the city was also concealed by clouds. Desperately short of fuel and after making a couple of bombing runs without obtaining any visual target, the crew was forced to use radar to drop the bomb. At the last minute, the opening of the clouds allowed them to make visual contact with a racetrack in Nagasaki, and they dropped the bomb on the city's Urakami Valley midway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works in the south, and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Ordnance Works in the north. 53 seconds after its release, the bomb exploded at 11:02 a.m. at an approximate altitude of 1,800 feet.
Less than a second after the detonation, the north of the city was destroyed and 35,000 people were killed. Among the deaths were 6,200 out of the 7,500 employees of the Mitsubishi Munitions plant, and 24,000 others (including 2,000 Koreans) who worked in other war plants and factories in the city, as well as 150 Japanese soldiers. The industrial damage in Nagasaki was high, leaving 68–80% of the non-dock industrial production destroyed. It was the second and, to date, the last use of a nuclear weapon in combat, and also the second detonation of a plutonium bomb. 
We are the only nation in the world that has ever done this.

Was all that killing of civilians necessary? The story we were told as boomer kids (a decade or two after our country did the deed) was, yes, of course. Truman had to end World War II, and this was the only way. Since then, that assessment has seemed less and less solid. The Japanese military was on the ropes anyway. Mostly, I hear, we were trying to scare Stalin. Asian lives were mere collateral damage.

I see that the Oregonian is writing about Hanford lately. Hanford, Washington (now Tri-Cities, just up the Columbia River from Portland) is where some of the bombs were made. A lot of people around there have died over the years due to highly radioactive air pollution resulting from nuclear bomb production. Reagan made it worse. The place is an environmental disaster area, one of the worst in the world.

In 75 years, the nuclear weapons have spread. They are bigger and more destructive than ever. The horrors that we inflicted upon Japan could happen again at any time.

Stop and ring the bell this week for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It never should have happened.


  1. This is not on point for Hiroshima and warmaking, but it’s certainly about something we’re doing that’s unforgivable and is obviously so in real time, not just retrospect — forcing kids back into schools to help The Crooked Don’s chances of stealing the election again:



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