Nagasaki, August 9th 1945
Interestingly enough, when Hiroshima was atom-bombed, the Tokyo government radio told the people that a “new type of bomb” had been used. The real horrors in Hiroshima were unknown to the wider populace; since the city was utterly destroyed and communications were hard, even the imperial government was not totally of what happened there. Two days would pass before the government met to discuss the new developments. In the wider world, the situation was quickly changing too; the Soviet Union’s declaration on war on Japan threw a wrench into both American and Japanese strategies.
On the American side, the decisions to use two nuclear bombs — to show than American has more than enough supply of such weapons — had been agreed upon since April 1945. Only the potential targets were debated upon, so that the U.S. could ban conventional attacks on those cities — in part so it would be easier to measure the destruction from the atomic bomb. The top choice was the emperor’s place in Kyoto, but the decision was vetoed by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who spent his honeymoon there and enjoyed the city. (Another thing Stimson considered was that if the emperor were to perish, it would have hardened the Japanese resolve and precluded a surrender.) Top targets became Hiroshima and Kokura. However, August 9th 1945 was a particularly cloudy day in Kokura. The bombing carrying the bomb gave up on Kokura and went on to its secondary target, Nagasaki.
The Japanese Supreme Council received the news that Nagasaki had been destroyed while they were just debating the terms of surrender. Now, surrender was not only inevitable, but also the only route for survival. On August 15th,the Emperor’s surrender speech was broadcast over the radio — this was the first time an Emperor of Japan had deigned to speak through a radio.
On the day after the Nagaski Bombing,a military photographer Yosuke Yamahata took over a hundred photographs of the devastated city. His photographs, taken in an interval of twelve hours in the afternoon of August 10th, were the most extensive record of the atomic bombings. In between Japan’s surrender and arrival of the American Occupation Forces, these photos were widely circulated; for instance, the 21 August issue of Mainichi Shinbun printed them. The Western audience would, however, have to wait further seven years before the censorship was lifted and they appeared in the 29 September 1952 issue of Life, together with Yoshito Matsushige’s photos of Hiroshima. The same year they also appeared in the book form.
The B-29 superfortress Enola Gay lands at its Tinian base after its atomic bombing mission over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. (AP Photo)
This is a photograph released by the U.S. government in 1960 that shows the Little Boy atom bomb, the type detonated over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The bomb was 29 inches in diameter, 126 inches long and weighed 9,700 pounds with a yield equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT explosive. (AP Photo)
In this undated handout picture from the U.S. Air Force, the ground crew of the B-29 “Enola Gay” which bombed Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945 with the “Little Boy” nuclear bomb, stands with pilot Col. Paul W. Tibbets, center, in the Marianas Islands. It was the first use of nuclear weapons in warfare. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force)
This picture made from the town of Yoshiura on the other side of the mountain north of Hiroshima, Japan, shows the smoke rising from the explosion of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, Aug. 6, 1945. It was picked up from an Australian engineer at Kure, Japan. Note the radiation spots on the negative caused by the explosion of the A-bomb, almost ruining the film. (AP Photo)
Survivors of the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare are seen as they await emergency medical treatment, on August 6, 1945, in Hiroshima, Japan. The explosion instantly killed more than 60,000 people, with ten of thousands others dying later from effects of the radioactive fallout. (AP Photo)