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Remembering Hiroshima, the city that was destroyed by the “Little Boy”

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By Nithin Sridhar

On the early morning of August 6th, 1945, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr. of United States Air Force and his crew flew Enola Gay, the Boeing B29 Bomber, into the city of Hiroshima and dropped “Little Boy” precisely at 8:15 am.

“Little Boy” was none other than the very first atomic bomb that contained 64 kg of uranium-235.

Boeing_B-29A-45-BN_Superfortress_44-61784_6_BG_24_BS_-_Incendiary_Journey

After 44 seconds, the bomb exploded directly above Shima Surgical Clinic in Hiroshima. The Little Boy caused a blast that was equivalent to a blast by 16 kilotons of TNT. There was a total destruction within 1 km radius and a future destruction due to firestorm happened within 4-5 km radius.

The Hiroshima bombing by the Little Boy was followed by Nagasaki bombing by “Fat Man” on August 9th, 1945. On the one hand, the bombings forced the Japanese to surrender and ended the Second World War. On the other hand, it resulted in thousands of people in these two cities suffering for many generations.

Today is the 70th anniversary of this great tragedy that resulted in an end to a War which could have led to a greater tragedy if it had not been stopped.

Why America chose to use Atomic Bombs

There has been a lot of criticism in the aftermath of the Second World War regarding the decision of Harry S. Truman, the then President of US to drop atomic bombs on Japan. But, at the same time, it has been well established that during the war itself, the President received advice from various military and civil personnel including many scientists regarding the use of atomic bomb.

The US explored various options like continued naval blockade, air bombardment and eventual invasion of Japan in order to end the war as the Japanese were not ready for unconditional surrender.

1280px-Atomic_bombing_of_Japan

In his thesis “America’s Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan”, Joseph H. Paulin says:

During the time President Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb against Japan, the United States was preparing to invade the Japanese homeland. The brutality and the suicidal defenses of the Japanese military had shown American planners that there was plenty of fight left in a supposedly defeated enemy. Senior military and civilian leaders presented Truman with several options to force the surrender of Japan. The options included the tightening of the naval blockade and aerial bombardment of Japan, invasion, a negotiated peace settlement, and the atomic bomb became an option, once bomb became operational.

“Truman received recommendations, advice, and proposals from civilian and military leaders within the first two months of taking office after President Roosevelt died. Only after meeting with the senior leadership to discuss the various options did Truman authorize the planning and execution of the invasion of Japan.  However, the extremely large casualty estimates presentedby the Chiefs of Staff remained a concern for Truman, especially in the wake of the bloody battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.These estimates became the driving factor for Truman’s ultimate decision to use the new weapon against Japan and to end the war before any more Americans service members died unnecessarily.”

In 1945, Quincy Wright and William Shockley prepared a report assessing the probable causalities in the event of an American invasion of Japan. The report estimated that an American invasion of Japan would lead to deaths of 5-10 million Japanese and 1-4 million casualties on the American side including the deaths of 400,000 to 800,000 American soldiers.

Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - 65th Anniversary

Therefore, the driving force behind American decision to drop atomic bombs were to end the war as soon as possible and to prevent further loss of Americans who are fighting the war. Other factors that might have influenced the decision to use the bombs include using it as a justification for spending huge cost on Manhattan project (around $1,889,604,000, 1945 dollar rate) that produced the bomb, and as a response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The casualties of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing

Whatever may have been the reason, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese to surrender, but at a great cost to human lives.

In Hiroshima, around 70,000-80,000 people died immediately and another 70,000 people were injured due to the blast and the resultant firestorm. The total figures of those who died reached about 140,000 by December 1945. Around 92% of the 76000 buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repairs by the blast. In Nagasaki, at least 39,000 people died and another 25,000 people were injured.

The radiation from the bomb explosion had long-term health effects on the Japanese survivors of the war including causing leukemia, blood disorder, solid cancer and keloids. A study by Radiation Effects Research Foundation shows that between 1950 and 2000, 46% of leukemia deaths and 11% of solid cancer deaths among the bomb survivors were due to their exposure to radiation from the bombs.

These heavy causalities and the long-term effects of the atomic bombs must serve as a lesson for the people in power to make sure that a situation wherein the use of these bombs become inevitable, like Second World War, never again arise.

 

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    In the history of mankind, this was the biggest destruction ever caused! Not only the people, but their generations also suffered a lot

  • Being_Stupid

    They bombed Pearl Harbor first.

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Whale-Watching, a Growing Business around Japan

People packed the decks of the Japanese whale-watching boat, screaming in joy as a pod of orcas put on a show

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Tourists on a whale watching tour boat look for whales in the sea near Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan, July 1, 2019. VOA

People packed the decks of the Japanese whale-watching boat, screaming in joy as a pod of orcas put on a show: splashing tails at each other, rolling over, and leaping out of the water.

In Kushiro, just 160 kilometers south of Rausu, where the four dozen people laughed and cheered, boats were setting off on Japan’s first commercial whale hunt in 31 years.

Killed that day were two minke whales, which the boats in Rausu also search for glimpses of – a situation that whale-watching boat captain Masato Hasegawa confessed had him worried.

“They won’t come into this area – it’s a national park – or there’d be big trouble,” the 57-year-old former pollock fisherman said. “And the whales we saw today, the sperm whales and orcas, aren’t things they hunt.”

Whale, Business, Japan
Whale-watching boat captain Masato Hasegawa speaks with other boats in order to look for whales in the sea near Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan, July 1, 2019. VOA

“But we also watch minkes,” he added. “If they take a lot in the (nearby) Sea of Okhotsk, we could well see a change, and that would be too bad for whale watching.”

Whale-watching is a growing business around Japan, with popular spots from the southern Okinawa islands up to Rausu, a fishing village on the island of Hokkaido, so far north that it’s closer to Russia than to Tokyo.

The number of whale watchers around Japan has more than doubled between 1998 and 2015, the latest year for which national data is available. One company in Okinawa had 18,000 customers between January and March this year.

In Rausu, 33,451 people packed tour boats last year for whale and bird watching, up 2,000 from 2017 and more than 9,000 higher than 2016. Many stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, and buy local products such as sea urchins and seaweed.

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“Of the tourist boat business, 65 percent is whale watching,” said Ikuyo Wakabayashi, executive director of the Shiretoko Rausu Tourism Association, who says the numbers grow substantially each year.

“You don’t just see one type of whale here, you see lots of them,” she said. “Whale-watching is a huge tourist resource for Rausu and this will continue, I hope.”

Wakabayashi was drawn to Rausu by whale-watching; a native of the western city of Osaka, she fell in love with the area after three trips there to see orcas.

“I thought this was an incredible place,” she said. “Winters are tough, but it’s so beautiful.”

Whale, Business, Japan
A heavy shroud of morning mist fills a port in Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan, July 2, 2019. VOA

Hasegawa, who says he has a waiting list of customers in high season, has ordered a second boat.

“Right now, the lifestyle we have is good,” Hasegawa said. “Better than it would have been with fishing.”

Small Industry

The five whaling vessels moored at Kushiro port on Sunday, the night before the hunt resumed, were well-used and well-maintained. Crew members came and went, carrying groceries or towels, heading for a public bath.

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Barely 300 people are directly involved with whaling around Japan, and though the government maintains whale meat is an important part of food culture, the amount consumed annually has fallen to only 0.1 percent of total meat consumption.

Yet Japan, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – himself from a whaling district – left the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and returned to commercial whaling on July 1.

Whaling advocates, such as Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-type Whaling Association, celebrated the hunt.

“We endured for 31 years, but now it’s all worth it,” he said in Kushiro on Monday night after the first minkes were brought in to be butchered. “They’ll be whaling for a week here, we may have more.”

Whale, Business, Japan
A captured Minke whale is unloaded after commercial whaling at a port in Kushiro, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan, July 1, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. VOA

Everybody acknowledges that rebuilding demand could be tough after decades of whale being a pricey, hard-to-find food.

Consumption was widespread after World War II, when an impoverished Japan needed cheap protein, but fell off after the early 1960s as other meat grew cheaper.

“Japan has so much to eat now that food is thrown out, so we don’t expect demand for whale will rise that fast,” said Kazuo Yamamura, president of the Japan Whaling Association.

“But looking to the future, if you don’t eat whale, you forget that it’s a food,” he said. “If you eat it in school lunches, you’ll remember that, you’ll remember that it’s good.”

Whale, Business, Japan
A killer whale swims in the sea near Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan, July 1, 2019. VOA

Pro-whaling lawmaker Kiyoshi Ejima said that subsidies were unlikely, but that the government should be careful not to let the industry founder. About 5.1 billion yen ($47.31 million) was budgeted for whaling in 2019.

“If we pull away our hands too soon, a lot of companies will fail,” he added.

The goal of selling whale throughout Japan may be impractical, said Joji Morishita, Japan’s former IWC commissioner.

“The alternative … is to just limit the supply of whale meat to some of the major places in Japan that have a good tradition of whale eating,” Morishita said, adding that the meat is difficult to thaw and cook.

In areas for which whaling is a tradition, this niche market could promote tourism, which Abe has made a pillar of his economic plan.

“Whale eating in a sense is ideal – it’s different, it’s well-known, and for better or worse, it’s very famous,” Morishita said. “Taking advantage of this IWC withdrawal, I think there are business chances that are viable.”

Whales Up Close

For Rausu, on Hokkaido’s remote Shiretoko Peninsula, the viable business is whale watching.

Foxes run through the streets of the city’s downtown, which clings to a narrow strip of land below mountains and faces the Nemuro Strait. Summer often brings thick fog, while winter storms can leave waist-high drifts.

Though fishing was long Rausu’s economic backbone, the industry has taken a hit from declining fish stocks, which locals blame on Russian trawlers and falling prices. The population has dropped by several hundred annually, slipping below 5,000 this year.

Hasegawa, a fourth-generation fisherman, began his tour boat business in 2006. Though the first few years were a struggle, he is now happy with his choice as Rausu’s reputation grows globally.

On a recent weekday, customers packed the parking lot at a wharf lined with squid-fishing boats, waiting to board Hasegawa’s boat and those of three other companies. Hasegawa’s customers came from all over Japan and several foreign countries.

“Today there were more (whale) jumps than usual; it was fantastic,” said Kiyoko Ogi, a 47-year-old Tokyo bus driver who’s been whale-watching in Rausu three times. “I’m really opposed to commercial whaling; seeing whales close is so exciting.”

Whale hunting was never big in Rausu, and though Hasegawa said there once was “trouble” with people hunting small Baird’s beaked whales nearby, those fishermen now stay far from the tours and will tell him where to find orcas and sperm whales.

But he’s dubious about whether demand for whale meat will ever pick up. Restaurants and hotels in Rausu avoid serving it.

“We get a l