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Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the dropping of Little Boy
The Fat Man mushroom cloud resulting from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rises 18 km (11 mi, 60,000 ft) into the air from the hypocenter.

The Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks on the Empire of Japan during World War II (WWII). The United States and the Allies were fighting against Japan and slowly winning. Two nuclear weapons were dropped on Japan, one on the city of Hiroshima and the other on the city of Nagasaki. The generals wanted to bomb Kokura instead of Nagasaki, but it was too cloudy over Kokura that day. U.S. President Harry S. Truman ordered these attacks on August 6 and 9, 1945.[1] This was near the end of WWII.

The atomic bombs had been created through the Manhattan Project. They created two bombs. The first bomb was called Little Boy, and was to be dropped on Hiroshima, and the second bomb was called Fat Man, and was to be dropped on Nagasaki.[2] Nuclear bombs are much more powerful than other bombs.[3] Estimated number of deaths are given in the infobox opposite. Six days after the explosion over Nagasaki, and after the Soviet invasion of Manchukuo, Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers on August 15. Japan signed the surrender paper on September 2. This officially ended the Pacific War and World War II.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen for several reasons. First, both cities were unsuitable for firebombing, mainly due to the river deltas preventing firestorms from being very effective. Second, both cities had terrains which provided a good measurement for damage caused by the nuclear bombs.[4] Third and finally, both cities contained strategic personnel and installations; Hiroshima was the headquarters of the 2nd General Army and 5th Division with 40,000 Japanese combatants stationed within the city's limit, and Nagasaki contained two large Mitsubishi armament factories and many other medium-to-small workshops and plants providing vital war components for Japan's war machine. [This is of questionable accuracy in that one of the crewman of a plane that flew with the Nagasaki attack states in his interview in Studs' Terkel's oral history anthology The Good War that Nagasaki was a secondary target, bombed because the weather was not helpful for the bombing of a different city, the first intended target]. In both cities, as with other Japanese cities, these targets were mixed in with civilian homes, schools, and temples. Some sources assert that at least 54% of the deaths in Hiroshima were combatants and slave laborers while 72% of the deaths in Nagasaki were war industry employees and slave laborers, however these figures at various points mix soldiers, enslaved POWs and victims of Japanese occupations and do not necessarily correspond to what is know of the overall population of the cities and the overall casualties[5]

Many say that the atomic bombs actually saved many lives in the long run because it prevented the invasion of Japan. However, many others point out that Japan had lost a huge part of its food resources and the majority of its navy. Many of these people suggest that Japan may have lacked the strength to carry out major fighting. In particular, numerous US military commanders made statements during and immediately after 1945 that they believed Japan was effectively defeated prior to the dropping of the bomb.[6] Before the bombs, Japan wanted to surrender, on condition that their leaders had to stay in charge. America said the Emperor of Japan leader could stay in power, but the Japanese had to take orders from American soldiers placed in Japan, making it an occupied territory. More people would have been killed in a full battle in Japan. Some give different guesses of deaths in an invasion and deaths by the atomic bombs, and say that the bombings were not necessary. People still argue about this. No nuclear weapon has ever been used in combat since August 9, 1945.

The decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan was made after an analysis showed that more than a million people—combatants of both nations and civilians—would die if Japan was invaded by Allied forces. The nuclear bombings, while shocking and unprecedented, actually paled in comparison with the Operation Meetinghouse firebombing of Tokyo on March 9/10, 1945, which killed 100,000 civilians and destroyed 16 square miles in a single night. Had it not been for the nuclear weapons, the U.S. would have resorted to firebombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki which would have caused a similar amount of damage, but without the shock value that nuclear weapons have.[7] Doing nothing or waiting for surrender was not an option because hundreds of thousands of combatants, civilians, and prisoners of war were dying each month in the territories of the Empire of Japan.[8][9]

Partly because of the atomic bombings, after the war Japan adopted the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. These principles said that Japan could not create or try to get nuclear weapons.

Related pages


  1. "Truman announces bombing of Hiroshima". PBS. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  2. Browne, Ryan. "Why did the U.S. bomb Hiroshima?". CNN. Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  3. "Atomic bombs - WWII". History. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  4. Summary of Target Committee Meetings May 10 and 11, 1945
  5. Crane, Conrad C. (1994). The Cigar that brought the Fire Wind: Curtis LeMay and the Strategic Bombing of Japan. JGSDF-U.S. Army Military History Exchange. p. 145. ASIN B0006PGEIQ. 
  6. Alperovitz, Gar (2015-08-06) (in en-US). The War Was Won Before Hiroshima—And the Generals Who Dropped the Bomb Knew It. ISSN 0027-8378 . Retrieved 2020-01-20. 
  7. Compton, Karl (December 1946). "If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used". The Atlantic. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  8. Miller, Henry I.. "The Nuking Of Japan Was A Tactical And Moral Imperative". Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  9. Keck, Zachary. "How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Saved Millions of Lives". Retrieved 1 June 2016.