This article explores the Hiroshima bombing and its effects on the lives of those who lived there. As a result, the article covers a range of topics, from why the Japanese government was unaware of the bombing until six weeks after the event to how radiation affected children born to survivors of Hiroshima. Here are some key points to consider when learning about Hiroshima.
70,000 people killed in Hiroshima
On August 6, 1945, the Japanese dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, killing 70,000 people. The white light was blinding, burning dark patterns of clothing and the shadows of bodies onto walls. Surviving Hiroshima residents describe being blinded by an enormous wave of light. They were caught in the blast, but those who were indoors were spared the worst of the effects. Flying glass and fragments of combustible material flooded the city.
It is possible that a few of the surviving survivors were killed by radiation. Although the exact number of Hiroshima survivors remains unknown, many believe it was a factor in the mass casualties. While the initial blast may have killed 70,000, lingering effects of radioactive fallout likely contributed to the overall death toll. In fact, the death toll could have exceeded 200,000 during the five years following the Hiroshima bombing.
As a former military officer, I was shocked to learn that 70,000 of the people who were killed by the atomic bomb were Japanese citizens. Considering the size of the atomic bomb, this figure is not surprising. But what makes it particularly shocking is that a large number of these survivors had a strong connection with the atomic bomb. Indeed, it is likely that the 70,000 Hiroshima casualty figures are significantly under-reported, and are unlikely to represent a true representation of the victims.
The bombing of Hiroshima marked the first use of atomic weapons in war. On August 6, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. The resulting blast destroyed the city in two to three square miles. The war ended abruptly with Japan’s surrender to the Allies. The atomic bombings were a turning point in the history of the twentieth century.
Those estimates are highly controversial. While the death toll of a nuclear attack varies widely, most of the deaths occurred in the immediate aftermath of the blast. In Hiroshima alone, 60% of the city’s built-up areas were destroyed. The number of casualties is estimated at 200,000 and 100,000, although the exact numbers are not known. In addition to the 70,000 deaths, this bombing was responsible for destroying an estimated seventy-five percent of the city’s population.
Enola Gay bomber dropped uranium-235 bomb on city
The Enola Gay was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, named for the pilot’s mother, when she dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bomb, which exploded 2,000 feet above the city, wiped out about three-quarters of the city’s population. As a result, Hiroshima was devastated and Japan surrendered.
The Enola Gay was piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets, who had a background in physics and a love of flying. The bomber flew at a low altitude on automatic pilot and climbed to 31,000 feet when it was close to its target. When it reached the target area, the bomb was dropped from the Enola Gay, which dove away from the expected shock wave. The “Little Boy” bomber detonated over the city at a height of 1,900 feet and over a parade field where the Japanese Second Army soldiers were doing calisthenics. The bomber was approximately eleven and a half miles away when the “all-clear” sounded.
The explosion was catastrophic, causing suffering and death for years to come. As the Allied forces approached Japan, they began planning a massive invasion. However, if the invasion was successful, the Allied forces would suffer as many as ten million casualties. The atomic bombs presented an alternative strategy to end the war and save lives. The Manhattan Project was born out of a need for an alternative. The United States government had already begun research on the use of uranium in the production of nuclear bombs. As the war dragged on, U.S. government officials became more skeptical of uranium.
A half-hour after the explosion, heavy rain began falling on the northwest part of Hiroshima. The rain carried debris, soot, and highly radioactive particles. These particles had been sucked into the air during the explosion and the fire. This black rain contaminated many areas far from the explosion. While most people thought the bomb had destroyed the city, the Enola Gay bomber was still intact and on display at the Smithsonian for nearly seventy years.
Japanese government did not know about bombings until after attack
President Franklin D. Roosevelt feared that the Japanese would strike American interests in the Pacific. On December 4, 1941, the Chicago Tribune published the top-secret war plan “Rainbow Five,” which made preparations for a possible war with Japan. But the Japanese government did not know about the bombings until after the attack. President Roosevelt and his advisers failed to act. In the weeks that followed, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor took place and the United States entered the Second World War.
Although the Japanese government did not know about the bombings until after the attack, it was clear that they were trying to end the war by inflicting enormous casualties. They had hoped that this would break the American resolve and defeat their enemy. Although the Japanese government did not know about the bombings until after the attack, the American government had been aware of the peace maneuvers. The United States, for its part, had intercepted many of Japan’s diplomatic communications.
The Japanese attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Three days later, the United States officially declared war on Japan. The bombings destroyed dozens of U.S. ships, damaged hundreds of planes, and killed over 2,000 Americans. The Japanese also attacked British and Dutch colonies in southeast Asia, which resulted in the destruction of millions of tons of goods. While the Japanese government was not aware of the bombings until after the attack, they remained unprepared for the attack.
Although the Japanese government had not formally declared its surrender until after the attack, they had not informed the public about it. The bombings were a surprise for the Japanese government, which had publicly rejected the Potsdam Declaration. President Harry S. Truman then ordered the atomic attacks. Although the Japanese government did not know about the bombings until after the attack, it is still important to evacuate these cities as soon as possible.
In retrospect, the use of atomic bombs against the Japanese has been the subject of much emotional debate. Although few questioned the use of nuclear weapons by President Truman in 1945, many historians have argued that the bombs forced Japan to surrender. The Japanese leaders wanted to end the war anyway, and likely would have surrendered before the Nov. 1 invasion anyway. Moreover, the bombs did not necessarily win the war.
Effects of radiation on children born to survivors of Hiroshima bombings
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 resulted in horrific casualties and devastation. The subsequent aftermath of the bombings has also resulted in increased cancer and birth defects rates among survivors. Although the public’s perception of the bombings is overstated, recent follow-up studies have revealed the real truth. One study in Perspectives discusses the impact of mismatch in the data regarding radiation exposure.
Although radiation is thought to increase the risk of cancer, the results of the Yoshimoto study have thrown doubt on this notion. Although children born to survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings experienced a greater risk of cancer, they showed no significant differences in cancer rates compared to non-exposed children. There is still much more work to be done to determine the true risks of radiation.
The effects of radiation on survivors’ children are long-term, affecting entire generations. In the early years after the attack, the incidence of leukemia increased, reaching a high point between two and six years later. The radiation effects were worst for children, so researchers have identified the attributable risk associated with leukemia. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation estimates the risk to be 46%.
In the aftermath of the bombings, the Japanese scientific community began studying the effects of radiation on survivors and their children. After the war, they set up tumor registries in the two cities and began collecting data on excess cancer risks. The most thorough study, carried out by Dale L. Preston of Hirosoft International Corporation, found that the attributable rate of radiation to solid cancer was lower than 10.7%.
While the bombings killed more than 140,000 people in Japan, survivors suffered from many other side effects from the radiation. Many of the survivors suffered from cancer and chronic disease. Survivors were encouraged by the blossoming of oleander flowers in 1946. The flowers dispelled their fears of no fertility in Hiroshima and provided hope for recovery. But these effects were not permanent, and some survivors did not survive for long.