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Moment of silence as Hiroshima recalls bomb
Tens of thousands gather for memorial on 60th anniversary of attack
THE BOMB KILLED OVER 90,000 SIXTY YEARS AGO!
On the morning of August 6,1945 at 8:15, the first atomic bomb dropped in history exploded approximately 580 meters above the center of Hiroshima. In an instant, it reduced the city to a scorched plain, wipping out countless precious lives and inflicting devastation on all city functions.
Hiroshima marked the 60th anniversary Saturday of the first atomic bomb attack with prayers and water for the dead and a call by the city’s mayor for nuclear powers to abandon their arsenals and stop jeopardizing human survival.
At 8:15 a.m., the instant of the blast, the city’s trolleys stopped and more than 55,000 people assembled at Peace Memorial Park observed a moment of silence that was broken only by the ringing of a bronze bell.
A flock of doves was released into the sky. Then wreaths and ladles of water symbolizing the suffering of those who died in the atomic inferno were offered at a simple, arch-shaped stone monument at the center of the park.
Outside the nearby A-Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings left standing after the blast, peace activists held a die-in to commemorate the bombing that turned life to death for more than 140,000 and forever changed the face of war.
By early summer 1945, the Japanese fully realized that they were beaten. Why did they nonetheless fight on? As Anscombe wrote: “It was the insistence on unconditional surrender that was the root of all evil.”101
That mad formula was coined by Roosevelt at the Casablanca conference, and, with Churchill’s enthusiastic concurrence, it became the Allied shibboleth. After prolonging the war in Europe, it did its work in the Pacific. At the Potsdam conference, in July 1945, Truman issued a proclamation to the Japanese, threatening them with the “utter devastation” of their homeland unless they surrendered unconditionally. Among the Allied terms, to which “there are no alternatives,” was that there be “eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest [sic].” “Stern justice,” the proclamation warned, “would be meted out to all war criminals.”102
To the Japanese, this meant that the emperor regarded by them to be divine, the direct descendent of the goddess of the sun would certainly be dethroned and probably put on trial as a war criminal and hanged, perhaps in front of his palace.103 It was not, in fact, the U.S. intention to dethrone or punish the emperor. But this implicit modification of unconditional surrender was never communicated to the Japanese. In the end, after Nagasaki, Washington acceded to the Japanese desire to keep the dynasty and even to retain Hirohito as emperor.
For months before, Truman had been pressed to clarify the U.S. position by many high officials within the administration, and outside of it, as well. In May 1945, at the president’s request, Herbert Hoover prepared a memorandum stressing the urgent need to end the war as soon as possible. The Japanese should be informed that we would in no way interfere with the emperor or their chosen form of government. He even raised the possibility that, as part of the terms, Japan might be allowed to hold on to Formosa (Taiwan) and Korea. After meeting with Truman, Hoover dined with Taft and other Republican leaders, and outlined his proposals.104
Establishment writers on World War II often like to deal in lurid speculations. For instance: if the United States had not entered the war, then Hitler would have “conquered the world” (a sad undervaluation of the Red Army, it would appear; moreover, wasn’t it Japan that was trying to “conquer the world”?) and killed untold millions. Now, applying conjectural history in this case: assume that the Pacific war had ended in the way wars customarily do through negotiation of the terms of surrender. And assume the worst that the Japanese had adamantly insisted on preserving part of their empire, say, Korea and Formosa, even Manchuria. In that event, it is quite possible that Japan would have been in a position to prevent the Communists from coming to power in China. And that could have meant that the thirty or forty million deaths now attributed to the Maoist regime would not have occurred.