I love this city. Not because of its historic status, but because it is still here. The people are here. And this is a testament to the Japanese resolve.
What’s overwhelmingly sad for me is that this great city, after 500 years of history, is best known as the city that the first atomic bomb was used on in an act of war. This action by the Americans on the morning of August 6th 1945 overshadows everything. It must leave a scar on the memories of the people here. Of all of the people around me, who isn’t affected in some way?
Hiroshima wasn’t always the target. The Target Committee, led by General George Marshall, nominated four targets in the months before: Kokura, the site of one of Japan’s largest munitions plants; Hiroshima, an embarkation port and industrial centre that was the site of a major military headquarters; Niigata, a port with industrial facilities including steel and aluminium plants and an oil refinery; and Kyoto, a major industrial centre.
The United States called for a surrender of Japan in the Potsdam Declaration on 26 July 1945. The Japanese Government declined and its emperor, Hirohito, did not change the decision, setting in motion the events that would decimate this fine city. On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, the Atomic Bomb ”Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people within seconds of detonation at an altitude of 600m (1,968 ft). By the end of that year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000–140,000. Approximately 69% of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed, and another 7% severely damaged.
What staggers me is this: Little boy had an explosive yield of about 12 – 15 kilotons TNT and devastated approximately one mile radius. In 2010, the US B53 nuclear bomb, which the US has about 50 of, had a yield of 9,000 kilotons TNT.