The United States dropped the atomic bombs in two thriving Japanese cities in August 1945. The American military with authorization from President Harry Truman detonated the first nuclear bomb over the city of Hiroshima at around 8:15 am. Three days later, the American military detonated a second at Nagasaki leaving behind trails of mass devastation. The shattering effect of the two bombings is hard to overstate. Indeed, when the American military and security council heeded to the call for nuclear weapons, they clearly understood what they were about to unleash. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first victims of application of a uniquely destructive form of warfare that had the potential to change the course of history. The two bomb strikes in Japan shook the world, bringing to an end the destructive World War II. The bombing events left behind unprecedented and visually impactful annihilation on a determined opponent, Japan.
The longstanding debate on whether the atomic raids on Japan should be perceived as a horrific outcome of the war or an ethically indefensible irregularity, it is impossible to ignore the substantial historical precedence that America set. America had succeeded in sending a message of fear of the apocalyptic terror nuclear warfare can inflict. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki still cast a long shadow even after seven decades. Nuclear armament became the new priority of developed and economically stable states. The following period witnessed political disputes that culminated in the cold war. Seven decades after the atomic bombing in Japan, the horrifying scenes from the 1945 attack still haunt the human society. The devastation inflicted on Japan was brutal enough to send a chill message ensuring that the entire universe lives in fear of any possible nuclear attack.
Long-Term Impacts of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombing
After the twin attack, the two thriving cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in ruins. The T-bridge’s barrier had been destroyed, and the utility posts were scattered everywhere. The most familiar landmarks had been destroyed and unrecognizable. The latest architectural developments in the cities suffered significant damage. Most of the building in the cities were reduced to ashes or suffered structural damage. Previously standing steel and concrete buildings had substantial losses because of the downward pressure of the airburst. The religious centers and churches were turned into mere rubbles.
The physical impacts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing highlight the marks left on the survivors of the attack and future Japanese generations. The survivors of the attacks, called Hibakusha, sought for treatment for the physical injuries they suffered. Almost all medical personnel in the two cities died or suffered annihilating injuries. The remaining population had to contend with limited supplies to alleviate the suffering of survivors. The effects of exposure to the bombs’ radiation began to manifest among the survivors (Atkins). There were increased cases of cancer especially leukemia and lymphoma, stunted growth, blindness, spinal Bifida, cleft palate, mental retardation, reduced IQ levels, as well as small brains among survivors and newborns of presiding generations. The radiation from the bombs caused hair loss, severe burns from thermal radiation, keloids, and thermal burns.
In the period that followed the atomic bombing, survivors were referred to as Hibakusha; the explosion affected people. Mostly, the survivors were victims of discrimination and were treated with suspicion as if they were carriers of a highly infectious condition. They were viewed continuously as unsuitable to occupy employment position and become marriage partners. The survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing were subjects to trauma and endured inhuman conditions and at times physical subjection to pain as they were treated like lepers. The survivors were mostly placed at the periphery of community activities
Cultural Changes Following the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing.
The drop of the atomic bombs marked the end of the Second World War in September 1945. General Douglas MacArthur, acting on behalf of the Allied forces began the occupation of Japan with the primary goal of restraining Japan from involvement in another war. While the Allied forces sought to demilitarize and democratize Japan, they inspired significant changes in the Japanese culture and ways of life. The American activities in Japan created an economic environment that enabled Japan to mark its position on the global consumer market.
The Emperor and Shinto
Japan’s rulers during the seventh and eighth centuries claimed the roots of the emperor from Amaterasu, the sun goddess who was the supreme deity. This tradition became an official doctrine, and high regard and status were accorded a god-like status. In the late 19th century during the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese society instituted Shinto as their official state religion and the emperor as the High Priest. The Shinto religion formed the basis of militarism and imperialism that reigned in the 20th century (McKenzie). Shinto also became instrumental in cementing the belief that Japan was superior to all other states and was destined to rule over the entire universe. In the mid-20th century, Japan surrendered to the American forces, Emperor Hirohito ceded his godly status, and Shinto was disregarded as the official state religion. Although Shinto still exists, the post-war constitution restricts the government against using any form of belief as a political tool.
The atomic bombs resulted in significant political changes in Japan. After the Allies dismantled Japan’s military and active industries, they reviewed Article 9 of the constitution at this moment prohibiting Japan from forming any form of an army or engaging in another war (McKenzie). The demilitarization became the first part of creating a peaceful Japan. Japan was gradually becoming a democratic state. The emperor gave up sovereignty as a political figure and remained a symbol of Japanese culture, a position that resembles the British monarch. The electorate elected the members of the Japanese parliament, the Diet. The emergence of democracy became a turning point for women who acquired the right to vote.
The economic structure of Japan significantly changed after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing incidences. After Japan had surrendered, MacArthur and his men took over the duty to stabilize Japan. One primary motivation was to create a free market economy. This initiative followed the realization that the Zaibatsu- a group of ten companies controlled the Japanese economy (McKenzie). Some prominent members of the group that are still operational include Mitsubishi and Nissan. The Zaibatsu controlled up to 60 percent of Japan’s economy. Dismantling the economic struggle poised significant threats to the financial stability of Japan and would require long periods to re-organize. MacArthur, therefore found it wise to instigate several legal reforms to prevent the dominant companies from having a monopoly. New land and labor reforms were introduced that enabled the tenant farmers to purchase a property from landowners. The land reforms marked a significant variation in Japanese traditional culture.
The institutionalization of democracy led to massive changes to the family system, which was predominantly patriarchal. The dominance of male members of society now had no legal foundation. A review of the Civil Code of 1947 abolished the Kotaku law that granted only the eldest son of a family the inheritance rights (McKenzie). The new law posited that all children had equal rights to inheritance. Before the review, the responsibility of taking care of aging parents was the duty of the eldest son. However, after the review, aged parents became the responsibility of both sons and daughters. The civil code also revoked the practice of arranged marriages and marriages became a matter of mutual consent.
Reconstruction After the Atomic Bombing
After Emperor Hirohito surrendered to the American pursuit, restoration became the national call replacing war. Most of the industries that existed before the war were now private entities. The local authorities on Japan arranged for an economic recovery plan to increase production and restore the city to former and even greater glory. The reconstruction has not been without challenges such as the Korean Peninsula conflict, where the demand for packed food, vehicles, and other commodities soared. Another significant moment in the reconstruction of Hiroshima is the departure of Allied forces dominance that led to authorities lifting the ban imposed on the Japanese shipbuilding industry.
The popular idea of converting a large part of Hiroshima into a memorial site for the victims of A-bomb gained traction following the writing competition to solicit the readers’ vision of the city. Sankichi Toge proposed the construction of plaza memorial, a library, museum, and a historical monument where international visitors would assemble to dedicate themselves to the course of peace. The governing authorities adopted Toge’s proposal but faced challenges in securing resources. In 1949, the national politicians ratified the Peace Memorial City Construction Law that states that a memorial city that is symbolic of the human idea of the sincere pursuit of genuine and lasting peace be built in Hiroshima (Hersey). The reconstruction law solved the land ownership tussle and the financial stress that rocked the post-war Japan economy paving the way for the construction of the great city. By 1958, the population in the town had grown 410,000, the same level before the onset of the war.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial park occupies the space on the South-west of the central railway station. Visitors arriving on the bullet trains can hardly identify the rubbles and remains of the atomic bomb. The sizeable architectural design occupies three acres, and it houses a museum, cenotaph to honor the victims and survivors of the bombing and a conference hall. The director at the museum highlights the dilemma that rocks the memorial museum. Some officials think it is important to preserve every available artifact of the horrible incidence as evidence of the destructive power of the atomic bomb, while another faction advocated for the removal of every physical remnant of the attack.
The A-bomb Dome became the UNESCO world heritage site in the 1960s. Today the hometown of Hiroshima is considered a typical Japan city with vibrant economic, political, and social life. Besides, it has become a home and market for new products and a cultural center depicted in the emergence of local football and baseball teams. Today, the memories of the Hiroshima attack are preserved in the A-bomb dome, the Peace Park, and other preserved buildings such as the Hiroshima branch of the bank of Japan. Besides that, Hiroshima looks much like any other Japanese city characterized by scaling office and apartment blocks, neon-lit nightlife, and ubiquitous business premises
Three days after the Little Boy was detonated in Hiroshima, American forces dropped the Fat Man on the city of Nagasaki. The second bomb left behind a trail of destruction, though not as severe as the Hiroshima attack. The rugged relief of Nagasaki served as a natural buffer that protected the city against severe damage (Cheng). Nonetheless, Nagasaki was inhabitable right after the American invasion and lay in a devastating state that required urgent reconstruction.
The reconstruction of Nagasaki began after the war. However, the period was rocked with relentless conflicts. Most prominent facilities and landmarks including the Nagasaki medical university had been reduced to mere ash and workers either critically injured or dead. The number of victims in the relief stations strained the available resources and staff. Surviving medical practitioners and well-wishers from the periphery carried out medical relief duties amid the scarcity of supplies and labor. Authorities from Nagasaki championed for the construction of Nagasaki International Cultural city as the memorial monument that was to develop alongside the Hiroshima Peace Commemoration monument. However, the Hiroshima reconstructive maintained the word peace in its description to resemble the significance of the city in the post-war era. On the other side, Nagasaki adopted the use of internal culture city making it a resemblance of other prominent cities like Nara and Kyoto. Moreover, this notion promoted the ideal of everlasting world peace.
The construction laws paved the way for resources and funds to facilitate Nagasaki reconstruction. The public perception helped the development of Nagasaki as a site of atomic-bomb tourism. The city authorities championed for the construction of Nagasaki International Cultural hall in 1955, which was replaced by the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum in 1996.
The 1945 atomic bomb double incidence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki left a trail of unprecedented destruction and massive loss of lives in the cities and their environments. The will of the survivors to live on beyond the attack and reconstruct the cities by helping each other and making way for future development is evidenced in their dedication and commitment. The will of peace and development is ingrained in the generations of Japan helping restore the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to normalcy and propel their homelands to greater glory than they were before.
Atkins, Harry. “What Were The Long Term Effects Of The Bombings Of Hiroshima And Nagasaki?”. History Hit, 2018, https://www.historyhit.com/what-were-the-long-term-effects-of-the-bombings-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki/.
Cheng, Xuanbing. “Rebuilding Of Nagasaki After The Atomic Bombing”. Large.Stanford.Edu, 2018, http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2018/ph241/cheng2/.
Hersey, John. “Hiroshima: The Aftermath”. The New Yorker, 1985, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1985/07/15/hiroshima-the-aftermath.
McKenzie, Eleanor. “Cultural Changes In Japan Due To The Dropping Of The Atomic Bomb | Synonym”. Classroom.Synonym.Com, 2019, https://classroom.synonym.com/cultural-changes-japan-due-dropping-atomic-bomb-7516.html.