Anniversary of Nagasaki

For those who are disinclined to remember history for any number of reasons, today is the 55th anniversary of the atomic bombing on Nagasaki. A B-29 dropped the bomb, codenamed Fat Man, on the city at about 1100 am local time. There are several moral issues surrounding the Nagasaki bombing, as opposed to the Hiroshima bombing three days prior.

As a military brat and as a lover of Japanese history and culture, I know that the Hiroshima bombing was a military necessity. The Japanese people, though I love them dearly, would have drawn out the fighting, causing the loss of many more lives from many more nations. However, the bombing on Nagasaki should have been postponed until after the forecast bad weather had cleared up, giving the Japanese more time to surrender. Originally, the drop had been planned for five days, not three, after Hiroshima.

Hiroshima was a military headquarters, as was Nagasaki, to a point. Nagasaki, however, was a port city, and though important during the war for its industrial involvement, could have easily been converted into a major trade center instead. With the impending surrender of the Japanese government, these changes could have occurred even before the end of the war on the western front.

Nagasaki was of a more traditional Japanese build, with wooden houses and wooden beams, tile roofs. The industrial aspects of the city had been built right alongside the old-style buildings. A medical school was located there, along with schoolchildren. I think someone was listening in the briefing rooms, because the only other attack on Nagasaki occurred little more than a week before — prompting the evacuation of many before the atomic bomb fell.

Present-day Japan would be a much different place if the second bomb had never fallen. For one thing, the traditional leadership of the Japanese people (called kokutai) would have continued, leaving an Emperor at the head of the nation instead of a Prime Minister. There would have never been occupation of the islands, in which nearly every aspect of traditional Japanese life was changed. Prostitution would never have risen to the heights it did (and in some areas of Japan, they still are relatively high).

There would have never been a “Peace Clause,” followed by a desperate urging during the Cold War by the U.S. for the Japanese to re-arm themselves.

Then again, to quote the Japanese themselves… “shikata ga nai” or “nothing can be done about it.”

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