Atomic Bomb Experience
The Seattle Hiroshima Club is an organization that has been active since the year 1900. The Club has worked to bring the Seattle community together to remember the events of Hiroshima. Communities and cultures stay strong by gathering, which is something the Club does to pay respects and honor the unforgettable atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
This website offers many pages you can visit to educate oneself on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and to get to know the Club better. Please visit the Media, Interviews and History pages to learn more.
Below, you can read information about Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu – the largest island of Japan. The city’s name, 広島, means “Broad Island” in Japanese. Hiroshima gained city status on April 1, 1889. On April 1, 1980, Hiroshima became a designated city. As of August 2016, the city had an estimated population of 1,196,274. The GDP in Greater Hiroshima, Hiroshima Metropolitan Employment Area, is US$61.3 billion as of 2010. Kazumi Matsui has been the city’s mayor since April 2011.
Hiroshima is perhaps best known as the first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped an atomic bomb on the city (and later on Nagasaki) at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.
During World War II, the 2nd General Army and Chugoku Regional Army were headquartered in Hiroshima, and the Army Marine Headquarters was located at Ujina port. The city also had large depots of military supplies, and was a key center for shipping.
The bombing of Tokyo and other cities in Japan during World War II caused widespread destruction and hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. There were no such air raids on Hiroshima. However, a real threat existed and was recognized. In order to protect against potential firebombings in Hiroshima, school children aged 11–14 years were mobilized to demolish houses and create firebreaks.
On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m., the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, flown by Colonel Paul Tibbets, directly killing an estimated 70,000 people, including 20,000 Japanese combatants and 2,000 Korean slave laborers. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought the total number of deaths to 90,000–166,000. The population before the bombing was around 340,000 to 350,000. About 70% of the city’s buildings were destroyed, and another 7% severely damaged.
The public release of film footage of the city following the attack, and some of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission research about the human effects of the attack, was restricted during the occupation of Japan, and much of this information was censored until the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, restoring control to the Japanese.
As Ian Buruma observed, “News of the terrible consequences of the atom bomb attacks on Japan was deliberately withheld from the Japanese public by US military censors during the Allied occupation—even as they sought to teach the natives the virtues of a free press. Casualty statistics were suppressed. Film shot by Japanese cameramen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings was confiscated. “Hiroshima”, the account written by John Hersey for The New Yorker, had a huge impact in the US, but was banned in Japan. As [John] Dower says: ‘In the localities themselves, suffering was compounded not merely by the unprecedented nature of the catastrophe … but also by the fact that public struggle with this traumatic experience was not permitted.’” The US occupation authorities maintained a monopoly on scientific and medical information about the effects of the atomic bomb through the work of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, which treated the data gathered in studies of hibakusha as privileged information rather than making the results available for the treatment of victims or providing financial or medical support to aid victims. The US also stood by official denial of the ravages associated with radiation. Finally, not only was the press tightly censored on atomic issues, but literature and the arts were also subject to rigorous control prior.
The book Hiroshima by John Hersey was originally featured in article form and published in the magazine The New Yorker, on 31 August 1946. It is reported to have reached Tokyo, in English, at least by January 1947 and the translated version was released in Japan in 1949. Despite the fact that the article was planned to be published over four issues, “Hiroshima” made up the entire contents of one issue of the magazine. Hiroshima narrates the stories of six bomb survivors immediately prior to and for months after the dropping of the Little Boy bomb.
The oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima because it was the first to bloom again after the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.
This information was taken from the Wikipedia article on Hiroshima, which can be viewed in full here:
Please see the links below to learn more about Hiroshima and the Seattle Hiroshima Club’s involvement.