Today in history: Japan observes 70th anniversary of horrific Hiroshima atomic bombing


Japan observed the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing that took place during World War II on cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which eventually led to the end of the war.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and foreign delegates were among the tens of thousands gathered in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park to observe a moment of silence at 8:15am local time, when the detonation turned the western Japanese city into an inferno.

The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima killed around 140,000 people.

Despite the terror the night engendered, the firebombing has been little talked of in Japan, and Tuesday’s ceremony in the capital was the first attended by a sitting prime minister.

An American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb, dubbed “Little Boy”, on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Nearly everything around it was incinerated, with the ground level hit by a wall of heat up to 4,000 degrees Celsius — hot enough to melt steel.

On August 9, the port city of Nagasaki was also attacked with an atomic bomb, killing more than 70,000 people. Japan surrendered days later — on August 15, 1945 — bringing the war to a close.

Opinion remains divided over whether the twin attacks were justified.

While some historians say that they prevented many more casualties in a planned land invasion, critics have said the attacks were not necessary to end the war, arguing that Japan was already heading for imminent defeat.

Dropping the bombs, which were developed under strict secrecy, was hugely popular with war-weary Americans at the time — and 70 years on, a majority today still think it was the right thing to do.

Fifty-six percent of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center in February said using the atomic bomb on Japanese cities was justified, compared to 79 percent of Japanese respondents who said it was not.

News source: AFP