Japan marked the 75th anniversary of the world’s first catastrophic nuclear bombing in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States of America, which had claimed the lives of more than a million people due to the attack, and affected livelihoods of many more following the aftermath.
Bomb survivors, their descendants and a few dignitaries attended the annual meet in bleak numbers this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scaled-down gathering of people offered silent prayers for the ones who were killed and wounded in the attack and called out for world peace at the Peace Park in Central Hiroshima. Those not in attendance viewed the ceremony through an online broadcast.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui addressed the commemoration by saying, “We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centered nationalism and unite against all threats”, stating that nationalism elicited World War II and urged solidarity among all the countries to face global threats.
On August 6, 1945, the United States launched a 9,000-pound uranium-235 bomb code-named “Little Boy”, which was detonated in the city of Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber – “Enola Gay”. The bombing obliterated the city within the radius of 2.5 km (1.5 miles), killing over 140,000 people immediately – an estimated 30% of the population back then. In the days and weeks that followed, tens of thousands died due to exposure to radiation and injury.
Three days later, on August 9th, a second plutonium bomb named “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki by a B-29, now killing another 74,000 people in the blast, leaving an exponential number of people injured, and destroying an estimated 70% of the city.
America’s decision to A-bomb Japan was a consequence of the ongoing world war between both the countries and its allies. Japan refused to yield and retreat the war as demanded by the US, who threatened the Japanese with “prompt and utter destruction”. The bombing was America’s way of terminating the war to save millions of conflicted soldiers and civilians, especially for the US. “Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war,” President Harry Truman declared, after Hiroshima was flattened by the blast.
The attack on Nagasaki was a result of Japan’s failure to surrender after the first deployed bomb in Hiroshima. They, however, succumbed to the power of “a new and most cruel bomb” and Emperor Hirohito admitted defeat in a radio broadcast on August 15th, 1945.
The repercussions of the nuclear attack are endured by many to this day. The survivors – known as hibakusha – sustained physical and psychological pain after the attack, or fell victim to cancer. They sought for peace and not vengeance for their misfortune. “Whether it’s the coronavirus or nuclear weapons, the way to overcome it is through solidarity among mankind,” said a survivor.
The UN (United Nations) has defined the survivors as “a rallying voice for the safety and well-being of all humanity”, while recognizing the need to advocate for nuclear disarmament.
“We must recommit to nuclear disarmament for there will never be a justification for the decimation caused by nuclear weapons,” said President of the UN General Assembly.
Feature Image Via Canva