The original target that morning of August 9 was supposedly the tree-lined city of Kokura in the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan—where residents were already sheltering beneath the ground, awaiting their doom, carried by a plane that took off from a tiny Pacific island that cloudy Thursday 75 years ago.
But the city was spared from bombing.
Cloudy Kokura skies would led the B-29 bomber carrying a plutonium-core atomic bomb 30 minutes away to its next target, Nagasaki, also with overcast sky.
At 11 am by chance the crew found a crack in the sky and saw the stretch of Mitsubishi Steel Works, designating it as the bombing target.
The deadly cargo was dropped from a height of 9,600 meters—at 11:02 am, the clock stopped at the moment of explosion.
In an instant the city of Nagasaki was annihilated with almost everything in it incinerated if not nearly destroyed because of the heat wave, fire and radiation—a total pandemonium.
The most powerful blast the world had ever seen reportedly killed around 74,000, mostly women and children, and injured another 74,000—destruction even more so than what the uranium bomb brought to Hiroshima three days earlier.
The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum has registered:
In the area near the hypocenter, everything combustible burst into flames as a result of the tremendous flash of heat. Glass melted, ceramic roof tiles bubbled and rocks turned black, leaving permanent evidence of the ferocity of the flash. Although the temperature decreased with distance, clothing, telephone poles and trees as far as 2 kilometers from the hypocenter were burned or scorched.
A black monolith now stands at the hypocenter of the Nagasaki nightmare—where US dropped the atomic bomb 500 meters above the ground in 1945.
Just a few minute-walk from the Ground Zero you will easily find the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum where relics and records of the war are kept.
While taking photos is not prohibited inside the museum, the somber mood inside—quietly reflecting and reliving the horrors of war would most likely take away to urge to do so.
One particularly section of the museum is the high-ceiling Peace Memorial Hall where visitors are encouraged take a moment to say a prayer for world peace.
Easily accessible from a tram stop is the Nagasaki Peace Parkit where it was said grass and trees would not grow for 75 years.
But the park now is full of trees, flowers and art works donated by countries all over the world in support of the city’s prayer for peace, according to the Nagasaki City government.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively signalled the end of the Second World War, but at what price?
Borrowing words from SubSelfie.com’s resident historian Kristoffer Pasion in a retrospect, “The question remains and the raging debate continues: Did the militarized Japan of the early 20th century deserve such a destruction?”
The more pressing question now, however, would be, “What’s next after Nagasaki?”
Nagasaki is the last city in the world to experience a nuclear attack, but not quite yet. The US, China, Russia and other super powers all maintain nuclear arsenals.
That is why the mayor of Nagasaki Tomihisa Taue on the attack’s 75th anniversary last Sunday, August 9, urged the Japanese government once again to take more action toward realizing a world free of nuclear weapons, amid a global retreat of leadership on the issue, according to a report by the Japan Times.
The mayor appealed specifically to the government to sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted in 2017 but has still not entered into force.
Very ironice of the Abe government who repeatedly pledged to lead the international community toward the abolishment of nuclear weapons, but refused to participate in the said treaty banning nuclear arsenals along with the world’s nuclear-weapon states.
Despite massive technological advancement, the world has not changed much since the introduction of weapons of mass destruction which can erase an entire city in an instance.
If any the threat has just grown more real and bigger with the world’s Super Powers racing to outdo each other, amassing more nuclear arms in the guise of defense.
The people of Nagasaki, through their City Mayor, released their Nagasaki Peace Declaration 2020:
Exactly 75 years have passed since the day our city was assaulted by a nuclear bomb. Despite the passing of three quarters of a century, we are still living in world where nuclear weapons exist.
Just why is it that we humans are still unable to rid ourselves of nuclear weapons? Are we truly unable to abandon these dreadful weapons that so cruelly take lives without even allowing for dignified deaths and force people to suffer for entire lifetimes as the result of radiation?
About the Author
Toni Tiemsin is the Editor-in-Chief of SubSelfie.com.
He has over 15 years experience in news media, advocacy and development communication, and brand and corporate communications. Journalism 2009, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here. For more photos of his trips, check out his Instagram.