A Reflection on Hiroshima Diary, by Michihiko Hachiya
The hour was early; the morning still, warm, and beautiful. Shimmering leaves, reflecting sunlight from a cloudless sky, made a pleasant contrast with shadows in my garden as I gazed absently through wide-flung doors opening to the South.
Clad in drawers and undershirt, I was sprawled on the living room floor exhausted because I had just spent a sleepless night on duty as an air warden in my hospital.
Suddenly, a strong flash of light startled me - and then another. So well does one recall little things that I remember vividly how a stone lantern in the garden became brilliantly lit and I debated whether this light was caused by a magnesium flare or sparks from a passing trolley.
On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, in Southern Japan. On August 9, 1945, the USSR began to invade Manchuria. Later that same day, another bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Over the next two to four months, the effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and between 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki. Roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Since the dropping of the bombs, there has been intense debate over the humanity of the bombs. On the one hand, the bombings were seen as a massive human rights violation, and used civilian populations to test the effects of a new and devastating weapon. On the other hand, however, historians argue that if the bombs had not been dropped, and the USA had to fight their way all the way through the Japanese island, there would be a far larger loss of life. Additionally, the Allies saw the Soviet Union as not really liberating the countries they took from the axis, but more conquering and subjugating them. Therefore, with the threat of the Soviets from the north, the USA was in a rush to end the war.
Hiroshima Diary, by Michihiko Hachiya, is a diary by a Japanese doctor in Hiroshima when the bomb fell. The diary follows every day of his experience from August 6, the day the bomb fell, to September 30, 1945.
Throughout the book, the doctors of Hiroshima must work to treat patients in hospitals that were shattered by the blast, with minimal supplies, and isolated from the rest of the city. They must work to understand the strange symptoms of sickness that arise even among the uninjured. They must deal with hundreds of dying patients coming to the hospital in search of aid. The outside war no longer matters, and yet it does not feel as if Hiroshima is just a city any longer. It seems like the entire nation of Japan.
In the end, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki became a symbol of the horrors of the war, and have cause Japan to be viewed in a much better light than its more brutal counterpart Germany. The attitude toward Japan in World War Two is one of sympathy, and Japan is seen as a victim of the war.
Following the bombings, the Japan surrendered, and Japanese emperor Hirochito released a statement, saying that "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage". He then stated, "moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives" Later, he said that "it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable."