The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stages of World War II are well known.
Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. The Hiroshima prefecture health department estimated that, of the people who died on the day of the explosion, 60% died from flash or flame burns, 30% from falling debris and 10% from other causes. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries. In both cities, the vast majority of the casualties were civilians.
Japan surrendered 6 days later on August 15, 1945. The ethical role of the bombings and nuclear warfare are still debated.
The city of Hiroshima itself also has an interesting history aside from the second world war. Hiroshima has been a city since 1889 and is the capitol of the Hiroshima prefecture. The city's name means "wide island" in Japanese. The city was founded in the Sengoku period in 1593 as a village by the warlord Terumoto.
During the Great War, Hiroshima became an important military location as Japan joined the allies and housed German prisoners of war. This standing as a strong military base which began in World War I led to the United States Air Force targeting Hiroshima for the atomic attack in World War II.
During my free morning in Hiroshima we returned to the Memorial Peace Park that we also saw briefly the day before. Experiencing the Memorial site was truly one of the most moving places I have ever been too. A different blog entry has covered the park itself and the museum, but I will talk more about experiencing the Memorial Park on a individual basis. Being able to go back to the park and museum for an unguided tour in smaller numbers allowed me to really reflect on a personal level.
I found it really interesting that the site and museum are both momuments to remember those who lost their lives on the August 6, 1945 bombing and also I call to World Peace. The openness of the park made me feel almost hauntinlgy aware of the devestation. That openness combined with the portions of the museum dedicated to ending nuclear warfare caused me to feel almost angered that it was mly own nation that chose to evoke such destruction and suffering.
Portions of the museum and plaques around the park called attention to the devestation caused by this atomic bomb, also calling specific attention to the United States Air Force's military decision to make the attack. I did find it interesting that one specific room of the museum was a type of history lesson. This section was a reminder that Japan has also caused many other nations and people's harm during war times throughout history. The nuclear bomb was a product of the evolution of war fare itself, and so World Peace needs to promote not only nuclear disarmament but also peaceful resolutions to conflict in general.
The somberness of the overall experience was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I am truly greatful I had the opportunity to experience the Hiroshima bombing site while on this trip.