65 years on, Hiroshima was still the right thing to doPosted on August 8, 2010
Today is the 65th anniversary of the first use in war of the atomic bomb, which destroyed Hiroshima. 145,000 people died. On the 9th of August another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, and on the 15th Japan surrendered, ending the Second World War.
There are, of course, major memorial ceremonies taking place for those who were killed in the bombing. It’s right that that happens, and no-one would deny the pain and suffering that occurred as a result of the bombing.
But for all that, after 65 years for the world to reflect on the dropping of the atomic bomb, I cannot think anything other than it was the right thing to do.
While we remember today the people who died, we should also remember all the people who were saved as a result of the dropping of those two atomic bombs.
The war was brought to an almost immediate end, whereas it would otherwise have ground on for months or more. A war of attrition and island-hopping, ending with an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands and lasting into 1946 or even 1947 would have claimed the lives of untold servicemen and civilians on both sides.
Millions were freed from slavery – not just the 100,000+ Allied POWs who even with the early end of the war suffered an estimated 25% fatality rate, but the 4 million+ Javanese, the 10 million+ Chinese and the 5 million+ Koreans forced into slave labour by the Japanese military, and many more.
The novelist JG Ballard, whose childhood experiences in Japanese internment camps were immortalised in Empire of the Sun, was a teenager caught in a mad world of death marches, torture, murder and starvation on the Chinese mainland when the bombs were dropped. As he wrote later:
“the atom bombs…almost certainly saved the lives of myself and my fellow internees in Shanghai.”
So while we remember today those who died in the flash and poisonous aftermath of those bombs, let us also remember all those who were saved and freed as a result. The decisions taken 65 years ago were horrific, but they were also the right thing to do.