Yesterday I had my closest encounter with the bombing of Hiroshima.
Closer than having been in Hiroshima and seen the remains and memorials.
Closer than seeing documentaries, and reading contemporary accounts.
Closer than touching a stunted tree that survived the blast.
A friend of mine on mixi wrote about how her grandfather died in Hiroshima that day.
Her grandfather was going to work near the epicentre of the explosion. Hopefully he died instantly. Three weeks later her relatives managed to enter Hiroshima looking for his remains. All they could find was his teeth. (How they could tell I don’t know). But that is all that was able to be put in his tomb where today she lit some incense for him.
The remains are important in Japan, more so that the West. From my experience of my farther-in-law’s funeral the remains become part of daily life for the family enshrined in a Butsudan and part may also be buried in a tomb or a temple as well. I don’t know what happens if there are no remains or no family to observe the rites.
For me my friends grandfather illustrates the big tragedy of Hiroshima and countless other places. It is about the people just trying to live their lives that have no power over what their governments do. The people that are steamrollered by the indiscriminate military machine. For most there is no grand sweep of history, just death or survival in turbulent times.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be remembered and studied.
I don’t believe the reason that it had to be done to save lives. Kill 100,000 to somehow save a different 500,000. Japan was already defeated by the fire bomb raids and the blockades. Nor can Japan’s wartime atrocities justify it. (ie. two wrongs don’t make a right) The bomb was revenge. It was also a field test of a very expensive weapons system on unbombed cities to find out what would happen. And it was a warning to the Russians in Europe.
By today’s standards it would be a war crime. By the standards of the day, long abandoned by 1945, that civilians shouldn’t be targeted, it would have been too except there was no-one to indict.
It was done by the “good-guys”
There is an interesting news report on JapanProbe about a 90 year old survivor Toshie Une
Doug has an entry on his blog Japan: Life and Religion today.
And I’ve written about Hiroshima before with links to other articles and films.
Pray for peace if that is part of what you do.
Hope for a world free from nuclear weapons; not just held by the “good” regimes.
For the people in Hiroshima 6 August 1945
An interesting blog that has quotes and links to papers expanding the motives for bombing Hiroshima and an interesting comments section.