73 years on, the shadows and the scars remain. Source: Shutterstock.
JAPAN is marking 73 years since the US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, one of the only times the US has used nuclear weapons as warfare, the other being Nagasaki.
On Monday, an annual somber ceremony was held about 700 kilometers west of Tokyo to honor the people killed and injured.
It was about 8am in the morning on Aug 6, 1945, in Hiroshima, the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu. The world was already inching towards the end of the World War II.
Citizens of Hiroshima were just going about their day that fateful morning.
Some were just getting ready to head off to the factories where they work. Kids in their summer clothes were playing outside since schools were closed because officials thought bombers might be hovering near the city.
A handful was gathered outside Sumitomo Hiroshima Bank in Kamiya-Cho waiting for its doors to open.
Not knowing that in just a matter of seconds, the city would be flattened by the world’s first atom bomb, wiping off more than 70,000 people off the face of Earth.
The fireball from “Little Boy”, as the nuclear weapon was called, landed with a surface temperature of 5,000 degree Celsius and ignited every flammable material for over 3.5 kilometers.
It created a firestorm that lasted for six hours.
Junji Sarashina, a Hiroshima bombing survivor told Newsweek how he had to crawl from a pile of rock, glass, and sand. He had tried to cross a nearby bridge towards the city as a huge cloud of smoke filled the sky.
“That’s when I saw burned people: skin hanging and no hair,” he said. “The city of Hiroshima – it was burning.”
Just three days later, another nuclear attack was launched, engulfing the city of Nagasaki about 300 kilometers away from Hiroshima.
Hiroshima after the bombing. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The bombings left death and destruction in its wake, killing at least 129,000 people, most of whom were civilians. Many others perished due to radiation and illness.
All that was left of its people, plants, and animals were the haunting shadows left behind when they were incinerated, known as Hito Kage No Ishii (which translates to “Human Shadow Etched in Stone”).
Of the 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima, only 28,000 remained.
Some ruins that were left standing near ground zero, such as the Genbaku Dome (commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome or A-Bomb Dome), have been preserved and are still there today.
The Genbaku Dome was originally the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It has been made part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996.
Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall in its original condition. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Matsui called nuclear deterrents and umbrellas “inherently unstable and extremely dangerous” approaches that seek to maintain international order by only generating fear in rival countries. He urged world leaders to negotiate in good faith to eliminate atomic arsenals.
Today, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) actively promotes Hiroshima via “peace tourism” campaigns to draw attention to sites related to the nuclear devastation.
The program is designed to encourage tourists to learn more about the bombing, not to gain sympathy but to remind people of the darker, war-torn times in Japan and the cruelties of war, in hopes of promoting peace.
In 2016, nearly two million people visited the city, a 3.2-fold jump from about 360,000 in 2012.
Take a look at Hiroshima in current day:
Lainey Loh | @laineyx
A certified daydreamer, when she's not physically travelling, she's often going places in her head. Her first love is coffee & her second, wine – & she accepts bribes in either forms. She's also entirely capable of deep conversations about life & random musings just for laughs, but do excuse her if she appears AWOL mid-chat – she's just going places in her head.