Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Remembering Hiroshima – 70 years on.

70 years ago on this day, on 6th August 1945 at 8:15 am, a USA B-29 Bomber dropped an Atomic Bomb on the Japanese City of Hiroshima. It exploded with a tremendous flash 570 metres directly above the building you see in the above pictures, instantly killing around 80,000 people and reducing the City of Hiroshima to cinders. This building you see in ruins is called “A-Bomb Dome”. Three days later, a second Atomic Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, causing the deaths of 40,000 more. The dropping of the bombs, which occurred by executive order of US President Harry Truman, remains the only nuclear attack in history. In the months following the attack, roughly 100,000 more people died slowly, horrendous deaths. And over the years, another 300,000 people died due to radiation poisoning.  
Every year on 6th August, “A-Bomb Day”, the City of Hiroshima holds the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony to console the victims of the atomic bombs and to pray for the realization of lasting world peace. The ceremony is held in the morning from 8:00 am, in front of the Memorial Cenotaph with many citizens including the families of the deceased. During the ceremony, a one-minute silence to honor the victims is observed at 8:15 am, the time of the atomic bomb explosion. You can see the Cenotaph in the pictures above this paragraph. It is a large saddle-shaped concrete structure, representing a shelter for the souls of the victims of the Bomb. Within this monument is a stone chest which contains a listing of all the people who died as a result of the Atomic  Bomb tragedy immediately, afterwards and over the years due to ailments caused by radiation. It also has a Flame of Peace. The flame has burned continuously since it was lit in 1964, and will remain lit until all nuclear bombs on the planet are destroyed and the planet is free from the threat of nuclear annihilation. The memorial carries the epitaph in Japanese stating, “Please rest in peace, for (we/they) shall not repeat the error”. In Japanese, the sentence’s subject is omitted, thus it could be interpreted as either “(we) shall not repeat the error” or as “(they) shall not repeat the error”. This was intended to memorialise the victims of Hiroshima without politicizing the issue. However the English translation is clear “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil”.
The above structures and many more memorials, monuments, museums and lecture halls are located at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, at the center of Hiroshima City. You can see some of these in the pictures below. The Peace Memorial Park is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first City in the world to suffer a nuclear attack and to the memories of the Bomb’s direct and indirect victims. This Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
Now coming to why the A-Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. World War II was getting prolonged with uncertainty so in August 1942, the United States launched the Manhattan Project to produce an Atomic Bomb. In September 1944, the decision was made to use the new weapon against Japan. On 16th July 1945, the United States successfully carried out the world’s first nuclear weapon test in the desert of New Mexico, a mere three weeks before the weapon was dropped on Hiroshima. By May 1945, Germany had surrendered and the tide of the war had turned overwhelmingly in favor of the Allied Forces. The United States wanted to limit its own causalities by forcing Japan to surrender as quickly as possible. At the Yalta-Conference in February 1945 the Soviet Union secretly agreed to join the war against Japan within three months of Germany’s surrender. The United States wanted to force Japan to surrender before the Soviet Union could enter the war to secure a stronger political position after the war. The U.S. also wanted to use this weapon in war to measure its effectiveness. By the end of July 1945, most of Japan’s major cities have been destroyed by the U.S. air attacks. Hiroshima was still intact. The reason Hiroshima was chosen as the target for the A-Bombing are assumed to be high concentration of troops, military facilities and military factories that had not yet been subjected to significant damage.
With A-Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August, Japan ultimately surrendered to the Allied forces on 15th August 1945, ending the long World War II of over 8 years.

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