The 76th Anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing.

Creator: STR | Credit: JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympics in 1964 highlighted Japan’s re-emergence as an inventive nation, with bullet trains, tiny transistor radios, and a rebuilt reputation. Yoshinori Sakai, a 19-year-old born on the same day the bomb was detonated on Hiroshima, lit the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony. The epidemic period Olympics are beginning in Tokyo on the 76th anniversary, providing another opportunity for the beleaguered nation to redeem itself.

On August 6th and 9th, 1945, the United States exploded two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The assault was carried out with the permission of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement, and killed between 129000–226000 persons, the vast majority of whom were civilians. The two bombs continue to be the sole instance of nuclear weapons usage in armed combat.

When Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, the war in Europe was over, and the allies shifted their focus entirely to the Pacific theater. In the post-declaration on July 26, 1945, the allies demand the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese military forces. The only option was complete and immediate annihilation. Japan, however, disregarded the ultimatum, and the conflict continued. Following Nazi Germany’s capitulation in May, American scientists working on the Manhattan Project successfully tested a functioning atomic weapon in July 1945. Then-President Harry S. Truman approved the assault on Hiroshima. On August 6, 1945, Enola Gay, a US B-29 bomber aircraft, dropped the nuclear weapon Little Boy. Three days later, another B-29 detonated a Plutonium implosion bomb on Nagasaki, nicknamed Fatman. The bombs annihilated their targets very quickly. The acute consequences of the atomic bombs killed approximately 90000–146000 people in Hiroshima and 39000–80000 people in Nagasaki during the following two to four months.

On the first day, about half of the fatalities in each city happened. Many individuals died for months thereafter due to the consequences of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, which were exacerbated by disease and hunger. Although Hiroshima had a large military garrison, the majority of the fatalities in both cities were civilians. On the 15th of August, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war, Japan surrendered to the Allies. On September 2, the Japanese government signed the instrument of capitulation in Tokyo Bay, officially ending World War II.

There is still considerable discussion over the ethical and legal justifications for the attacks, given that the consequences of the twin bombs may still be felt today. Five to six years after the bombings, the prevalence of leukemia among survivors rose significantly. Survivors started developing thyroid, breast, lung, and other malignancies at higher-than-normal rates around a decade later. Even seven decades after the bombings, the increased risk of cancer from radiation exposure continued to rise throughout the survivors’ lives.

Women who were pregnant at the time of the bombings had a greater incidence of miscarriage and infant mortality. Children exposed to radiation in their mothers’ wombs were more likely to have intellectual impairments and poor development, as well as an increased chance of getting cancer. Needless to say, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs have left a long shadow over international relations to this day.

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