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Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Part 2)

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A dense column of smoke rising from Nagasaki after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city.

A dense column of smoke rises more than 60,000 feet into the air over the Japanese port of Nagasaki, the result of an atomic bomb, the second ever used in warfare, dropped on the industrial center. (August 9, 1945)

Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

While the people of Japan tried to comprehend the devastation in Hiroshima, the United States was preparing a second bombing mission. The second run was not delayed in order to give Japan time to surrender, but was waiting only for a sufficient amount of plutonium-239 for the atomic bomb. On August 9, 1945 only three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, another B-29, Bock's Car (picture of crew), left Tinian at 3:49 a.m.

The first choice target for this bombing run had been Kokura. Since the haze over Kokura prevented the sighting of the bombing target, Bock's Car continued on to its second target. At 11:02 a.m., the atomic bomb, "Fat Man," was dropped over Nagasaki. The atomic bomb exploded 1,650 feet above the city.

Fujie Urata Matsumoto, a survivor, shares one scene:

The pumpkin field in front of the house was blown clean. Nothing was left of the whole thick crop, except that in place of the pumpkins there was a woman's head. I looked at the face to see if I knew her. It was a woman of about forty. She must have been from another part of town -- I had never seen her around here. A gold tooth gleamed in the wide-open mouth. A handful of singed hair hung down from the left temple over her cheek, dangling in her mouth. Her eyelids were drawn up, showing black holes where the eyes had been burned out. . . . She had probably looked square into the flash and gotten her eyeballs burned.7

Approximately 40 percent of Nagasaki was destroyed. Luckily for many civilians living in Nagasaki, though this atomic bomb was considered much stronger than the one exploded over Hiroshima, the terrain of Nagasaki prevented the bomb from doing as much damage. Yet the decimation was still great. With a population of 270,000, approximately 70,000 people died by the end of the year.

I saw the atom bomb. I was four then. I remember the cicadas chirping. The atom bomb was the last thing that happened in the war and no more bad things have happened since then, but I don't have my Mummy any more. So even if it isn't bad any more, I'm not happy.
--- Kayano Nagai, survivor8

Notes

1. Dan Kurzman, Day of the Bomb: Countdown to Hiroshima (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986) 410.
2. William S. Parsons as quoted in Ronald Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1995) 43.
3. Kurzman, Day of the Bomb 394.
4. George Caron as quoted in Takaki, Hiroshima 44.
5. Robert Lewis as quoted in Takaki, Hiroshima 43.
6. A survivor quoted in Robert Jay Lifton, Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (New York: Random House, 1967) 27.
7. Fujie Urata Matsumoto as quoted in Takashi Nagai, We of Nagasaki: The Story of Survivors in an Atomic Wasteland (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1964) 42.
8. Kayano Nagai as quoted in Nagai, We of Nagasaki 6.

Bibliography

Hersey, John. Hiroshima. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Kurzman, Dan. Day of the Bomb: Countdown to Hiroshima. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986.

Liebow, Averill A. Encounter With Disaster: A Medical Diary of Hiroshima, 1945. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1970.

Lifton, Robert Jay. Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima. New York: Random House, 1967.

Nagai, Takashi. We of Nagasaki: The Story of Survivors in an Atomic Wasteland. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1964.

Takaki, Ronald. Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1995.

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