We all know what happened: the Empire of Japan refused to surrender and sought to go on fighting come what may. But then on August 6th and August 9th 1945, respectively, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuked and Japan surrendered shortly after the 15th of August.
Nowadays there’s still a great number of people who support this action together with the firebombing of Tokyo and other cities. They argue that the war would’ve lasted longer, and during that time the Japanese Imperial Army could’ve went on with their genocide campaigns, with their war rape and sex slavery practices, with their abuse to POWs and with the suffering of civilians living both in invaded areas and in mainland Japan.
And my answer is: well, it’s true that I can’t come up with an alternative solution which would have resulted in the end of the war as fast as the atomic bombing did. Anyway, that doesn’t stop me from finding atomic bombs extremely unsettling. The solution would have been to finish the war earlier, sure, but that was the responsibility of the Japanese Imperial Government, not the Japanese civilians. Although I can’t think of another solution to that problem, I’m very convinced that the US committed an atrocious war crime on that occasion.
I don’t want to picture Japan as the good one because they clearly weren’t the good ones: I just want this to serve as an example of why all war must cease and never come again. In my opinion, one step towards that is nuclear disarmament.
OK, so that was basically a statement of the intention of this article. Now, I’d like to focus on one of the survivors of the atomic bombing: Sadako Sasaki (佐々木 禎子 Sasaki Sadako). By the way, there’s a specific term for survivors of atomic bombings: hibakusha (被爆者).
She was born in January 1943, and when the bomb exploded she was about 1,6km from ground zero. Although she was originally uninjured from the blast, she was affected by the nuclear fallout, which was known as black rain by witnesses at the time. As a result of this, nine years later in November 1954 she started showing symptoms of leukemia. In February she was hospitalised and several months later she died in October 1955 at age 12.
The reason why she is so well known is that starting in August 1955 she created over 1000 origami cranes with whatever paper she could find in the hospital. The set of one thousand origami cranes is called 千羽鶴 (senbazuru). An ancient Japanese legend promises that whoever folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Very often the wish has to do with recovering from an illness or living a long life.
^^^ Paper cranes for peace in Hiroshima. Attibution: public domain 🙂
Thanks to the efforts of Sadako Sasaki, the origami crane is now a symbol of peace worldwide, and some schools or individuals donate sets of 1000 cranes to the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima to commemorate her death and the deaths of thousands of other children in the blast. Ultimately, as the senbazuru is now linked to that tragic reality, it serves as one of the many reminders of the effects of war.
War? NEVER AGAIN.
The next article of this kind might be about Tatiana Savicheva.