'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The 'Fat Man'

"...There was even less sign of a crack in Japan's determination to fight to the end [compared with that of Nazi Germany], which is why nuclear arms were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to ensure a rapid Japanese surrender....(but) perhaps the thought that it would prevent America's ally the USSR from establishing a claim to a major part in Japan's defeat was not absent from the minds of the US government either." - Eric Hobsbawm

Anand reminds us the 60th anniversary of the nuclear attack on Japan falls this week.

Perversely speaking, Nagasaki is very much a 'poorer cousin', remembered only in conjunction with Hiroshima. On the other hand, Hiroshima has been well remembered solo in various ways: Every year, one sees photos of the nuked-out Townhall of Hiroshima in the papers; and most public acts remembering the tragedy happen on August 6th. In my rather limited experience, I know of a military-journalistic work documenting the 'atomic mission' to Hiroshima and a strangely haunting French movie on how the destinies of Neverre (a town in France) and Hiroshima get entwined... And of course, the 1994 Asian Games were held in Hiroshima as an act of remembrance.

The one article on ONLY Nagasaki I have seen was many years ago in a Malayalam children's magazine - on how the 'Cheshire Homes' came to be set up by Leonard Cheshire, who witnessed the bombing of Nagasaki and was deeply moved by the suffering he saw. That really is that.

I have heard that the Japanese use the word 'Hibakusha' to refer to all victims of the nuclear blasts - no distinction made between those who died and those who were wounded but survived. It was felt that using the word 'survivor' or even 'wounded' for some victims was insulting to the memories of those who perished.

The very sensitivity that refused to distinguish between the victims of the tragedy, now seems to require of us to DECOUPLE the memory of Nagasaki from that of Hiroshima. It is often said in justification that the nuclear attack was unavoidable and that it actually saved the lives of millions who would have died if the Allies had made a 'conventional' invasion of Japan. Even if one were to admit that the nuclear attack indeed did the trick and quickly ended the war (even this is not all that clear!), questions remain: Were *two* attacks separated by 3 days really needed? Was the second attack really essential? Was not the launch of the 'Fat Man', the bomb that killed a hundred thousand people in Nagasaki, an act independent of the Hiroshima bombing, one of (immensely large-scale) military terrorism, rather than merely a PART of a morally justified (however perversely so) attempt to bring peace??


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