Acton Institute Powerblog

Remembering Nagasaki

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On August 9, 1945, 60 years ago today, the second atomic bomb named “fat man” was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Total casualties from the bomb are estimated at about 100,000, many dying from the effects of radiation following the dropping of the bomb.

The bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, which was a secondary target, at the perimeter of the city near strategic military targets. Nagasaki, located in the midst of hills, suffered much less damage than Hiroshima, bombed three days earlier with the first ever wartime atomic bomb.

Nevertheless, the bombing of Nagasaki is generally looked upon as an act of mere cruelty by United States, because the power of the American arsenal had already been demonstrated. In addition, Russia’s declaration of war was made on the previous day, and there was a lack of time given to the Japanese government to reassess their strategic position given the events of recent days.

In any case, Nagasaki now stands as a reminder to the world, along with Hiroshima, of the effects of atomic weapons, continually calling for their elimination and for the promotion of world peace. Nagasaki is today a vital port city supporting industry throughout Japan.

From my personal experiences visiting there, Nagasaki now is a nice city to visit and you might not even know that it had ever been hit with an atomic bomb were it not for the city’s outspoken opposition to nuclear weapons, its museum, and its park marking ground zero. Street cars are still used for transportation, the city has a thriving tourist industry (as well as shipping) and also an active nightlife. The city is also remembered as a center of historial importance, as it was the gate into Japan for the western world (mostly the Dutch who were allowed onto a small man-made island for trade purposes) during the Tokugawa shogunate (from 1603-1868), the location of the Shimabara rebellion, and a site of persecution of Japanese Christians.

Jonathan Spalink

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