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Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing

History | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

Why were the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed by the United States of America?

In 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the forces of the United States and her Allies had been at war with Japan.

On July 26, 1945, The President of the United States, Harry S. Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration, which called for Japan’s unconditional surrender and listed peace terms. The Japanese were warned of the consequences of continued resistance by the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, signed by President Truman and by Prime Minister Clement Attlee of the United Kingdom and with the concurrence of Chiang Kai-Shek, President of the National Government of China.

Little boy explosion

On August 6, 1945, at 9:15 am, Tokyo time, a B-29 plane, the “Enola Gay” piloted by Paul W. Tibbets, dropped a uranium atomic bomb, code named “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan’s seventh largest city. In minutes, half of the city vanished. The impact was upto 40,000 ft high in air. The heat from the bomb was so intense that some people simply evaporated in thin air. The blast destroyed more than ten square kilometres of the city.

According to U.S. estimates :

  • 60,000 to 70,000 people were killed or missing
  • 140,000 were injured
  • 100,000 were affected by immediate radiation in the blast

Fat man bomb explosion

On August 9, 1945, another US bomber plane flew with the weapon of mass destruction loaded on it. The first choice target for this bombing was the Japanese city of Kokura. But, the haze over Kokura made the American authorities change their plans and shift their focus to their second target, Nagasaki. At 11:02 a.m., another atomic bomb was dropped over Nagasaki.

3 Facts about Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing

  1. A month before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing in August, in July 1945, a bomb had been tested in the New Mexico desert. The bomb was code named ‘Trinity’. It was a part of the Manhattan Project.
  2. Following the two bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was decided to replace the Quebec Agreement (1943) with a more loose form of cooperation on nuclear matters between the three governments, as well as establishing a specialized UN agency on nuclear energy. This draft agreement was approved by the Combined Policy Committee on December 4, 1945 as the basis for the revocation of the Quebec Agreement.
  3. The Quebec Agreement was an agreement that the countries of the United States of America, Great Britain and Canada would not share their knowledge of nuclear power with a third party without each other’s mutual consent, would not use the power against each other, or against a third party without each other’s consent.
    After the war, Hiroshima was resurrected as a peace memorial city and the closest surviving structure to the epicentre was christened as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Every year people from around the world congregate to make paper cranes in memory of a two year old named Sadako, who developed leukemia from the radiation. She believed that making paper cranes would help her recover. More than 10 million cranes are offered every year.
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