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Thursday, August 6, 2015

the dropping of Nuclear bomb ... the resilient recovery of Hiroshima !!

I had earlier posted on ‘Enola Gay’ -  a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, named so after the mother of the pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets, who selected the aircraft while it was still on the assembly line. 70 years ago, on 6th  August 1945, during the final stages of World War II, it became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb. The bomb, code-named "Little Boy",  targetted  the city of Hiroshima, Japan, and caused unprecedented destruction. Enola Gay participated in the second atomic attack as the weather reconnaissance aircraft for the primary target of Kokura. Clouds and drifting smoke resulted in Nagasaki being bombed instead.

The great disaster – the mindless killing of mankind, created a blast equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT.  The radius of total destruction was about one mile (1.6 km), with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles (11 km2). Japanese officials determined that 69% of Hiroshima's buildings were destroyed and  70,000–80,000 people, or some 30% of the city's population, were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm, and another 70,000 injured.
That is the sad story of Hiroshima, the largest city in the Chūgokuregion of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The city's name means "Wide Island" in Japanese.
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. There are fears that the usage of nuke weapons have not occurred since for the past 70 years but the luck may run out !it is stated that  the track record of a `clean' seven decades had more to do with luck, a fortuitous combination of favourable circumstances and prudent political leadership. The Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 is illustrative.

One must appreciate Japanese for their resilience.  It is a city rebuilt from the ashes.  Now-and-then images reveal how Hiroshima has become a modern metropolis 70 years after it was devastated by an atomic bomb killing more than a lakh of people.   Though it was stated that nothing would ever grow again, flowers began to bloom, people returned and built the city back.  Hiroshima is now a thriving modern metropolis of 1.2million people 
The pictures of the modern metropolis - complete with soaring towers and bullet trains - gives little hint of what happened 70 years before. The only obvious testament to the horror of what occurred on August 6, 1945, is the skeletal dome - the only building left standing near the epicentre of the bomb which left lakhs dead. That too, because, in the intervening decades, the Atomic Bomb Dome has been carefully preserved as the city rose from the ashes around it.
Photographer Eugene Hoshiko, who grew up in Yokohama, on the otherside of Japan, travelled to Hiroshima to see for himself what had become of the city he had seen so many pictures of over the years.He was amazed by what he saw.'The city I found was very much rebuilt and alive, with a population today of 1.2million,' said Hoshiko.'The streetcars are packed again. The stark wasteland seen in the black-and-white photos taken soon after the bombing is but a memory.'
Very little of the city which existed before August 6, 1945, survived the bomb dropped by the Americans.About 90 per cent of Hiroshima was destroyed, and 140,000 out of its 350,000 residents had died by the end of the year, as a result of radiation poisoning. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing another 80,000 and forcing the Japanese to surrender - finally bringing to an end the Second World War.Like Hiroshima, it too has had to rebuild itself from the ground up.
The biggest surprise, it seems, was the size of the Atomic Bomb Dome, which had always loomed large in his mind. 'It wasn't as big as I had imagined. Then I thought, the building itself may be small, but its meaning is huge to all of us human beings,' said Hoshiko.
That would ever remain as the grim reminder of the hoary past of killing ~as also the stern response of Japanese.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th Aug 2015.

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