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Hiroshima, A Tragedy


On August 6th 1945 Hiroshima, an old town in Japan was bombed by the US military. It was the first time that an atomic bomb was used in a war. After years let’s see what has actually happened on that day….

Hiroshima

Hiroshima was initially founded in 1598 as a castle town by Mōri Terumoto, a poweful war lord. But in 1600 Mōri Terumoto was defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Sekigahara and gave the town including the whole province to Fukushima Masanori as the feudal lord. After 19 years the city was flooded and damaged extensively. Fukushima Masanori repaired the city by violating the rules and regulations at the time regarding the repairing and constructions of castles. Therefore the Fukushima Masanori was removed from the city and the city was then given to the Asano clan who ruled the city and the province until 1868.

In 1871 the provinces changed into Prefecture under the new emperor of Japan and the city became the the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture. During this period the Japanese economy changed from rural to urban industries. And seven English schools were established in Japan and one of them were located in Hiroshima. With the time the infrastructures in the city was developed.

It was a center of a military activities as it had been played a major role in Sino-Japanese war in 1894 and Russo-Japanese war in 1905. During the world war I the city became a focal point of military activities.

During the Second World war Hiroshima was a supply and logistic base for the Japanese army. Also it was a communication center, a key port for shipping and an assembly center for the troops. The city had manufactured parts for the planes, boats, bombs, rifles and handguns.

the population of the city was about 380,000 during the early war period but eventually it was decreased due to the systematic evacuation ordered by the Japanese government. At the time of attack the population was between 340,000 – 350,000.

World War II and Japan

World war II was started initially when the Germany invaded Poland in 1939. During 1939 to 1941 the Germany formed and allegiance with Italy and Japan. Mainly the war was among the European countries but Japan had aimed to control over Asia and Pacific regions.

In 1941 Japanese troops attacked the Pearl Harbor. It was a surprise military attack on the US who were in a neutral state at the time. This attack led the US to enter the war officially. If you look at the casualties of this attack, more than 2000 American were killed along with more than thousand injured.

8 US battleships were damaged and 4 among them were sunk. A total of 188 US air-crafts were destroyed. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was to prevent the US military actions in the Pacific Region.

Little Boy

An atom bomb or a nuclear bomb is a destructive device that explodes due to nuclear reaction. There are two types of nuclear bombs Fission Bomb and Thermonuclear bomb. Both of these bombs release a large amount of energy. The first nuclear bomb was tested by the US army in July 1945. This test was named as Trinity and it was conducted in Jornada del Muerto desert.

Little boy was the code name for the bomb that was used on the Hiroshima blast. The explosive energy for the bomb was supplied by Uranium-235. It was 10ft (3 m) in length and 28 inches (71 cm) in diameter and weighed about 9700 pounds (4400 kg). The bomb contained 64 kg of Uranium but less than 1 kg was used in nuclear reaction.

The preparations

US military did not bombed the any town in Japan. In July 1945 a target committee was formed by the US marshal. Their duty was to select a city and five Japanese cities were nominated as targets. They are Kokura (present day Kitakyushu), Yokohama, Niigata, Kyoto and Hiroshima. Each city that were chosen had special direct connection to the Japanese economy or military and war. After targets were selected these cities were untouched by the previous bombing raids in order to calculate the damage caused by the bomb more accurately. Kyoto was removed from the list due to its historical, cultural importance and Nagasaki was added to the list.

Before the bombings on 26th July 1945, Allied leaders issued the Postdam Declaration that outlined the terms of surrender for the Japan, which said if Japan did not surrender it would face prompt and utter destruction. The Japanese prime minister at the time Kantarō Suzuki stated in a press conference that the Japanese government intend to ignore the declaration.

Hiroshima was the primary attack along with Kokura and Nagasaki as alternative targets. Enola Gay, the US aircraft took off from Tinian carrying the “Little Boy” and set course for Japan. During the night of the 5th Japanese radar detected the US air-crafts and issued an alert. The radio broadcasting was stopped in many cities including Hiroshima.

At 08:15 the bomb was released and it took 44.4 seconds to fall from the air-craft flying 31,000 feet above the ground. Due to crosswind the bomb missed the target which was Aioi bridge and detonated directly above the Shima hospital.

The bomb released energy that was equal to the energy released from 16 kilotons of TNT.

About 70,000 – 80, 000 people were killed and another 70,000 people were injured. The witnesses claimed that they saw a bright flash of light and heard a loud booming sound. The explosion led intense fires that spread rapidly through timber and paper houses burning everything within a radius of 2 km. Around 30% of the population were killed by the blast and the firestorm.

Areal Images of Hiroshima before and after the blast

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