Peace Pieces – Peace Points, by Gabriel Banda, August 2015:
Shorter than Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, these are compressed, shorter, pieces on topical issues.
Hiroshima and Us, 70 Years Now
Gabriel C Banda
OVER the decades, like many persons around the world, I have had some questions and thoughts on the dropping of the atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
At the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I was not yet born. Later was I was born, and lived, in Africa, another part of the world. But the deep legend of Hiroshima was with us quite early in childhood and school. The well known sign of Hiroshima was the big “mushroom cloud.” We learnt about the impact and effects.
For on 08.15 hrs local time, August 6 1945, the atomic weapon of the American forces struck Hiroshima. Some 70,000 persons were immediately killed. Tens of thousands followed.
And three days later, on August 9, 1945, at 11.01 hrs, the American forces set off another atomic device at Nagasaki. Again, the destruction was deep. The immediate human victims numbered in tens of thousands.
Hundreds of thousands have died as a result of the atomic weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many survivors were to live with deep physical, social, and emotional injuries.
The American authorities in fact planned to drop more atomic devices over other places in Japan. Possible further atomic bombings and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war against Japan contributed to Japan’s September 1945 official surrender.
But still, while some persons say the Japanese military would not have surrendered without the impact of Hiroshima, some point out that the Japanese authorities were going to have a formal surrender before even Nagasaki was attacked.
In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, unlike what President Truman had called for, most of the victims were not combatants. Some Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors are still alive and tell the story, reminding us about our sad collective events as a human family.
And the effects on not only the people of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Japan but many all over the world have continued to be very deep.
Many of us in Africa considered the atomic bombings horrible inhuman incidents and felt for the victims. Some of our relatives and veterans we knew, such as Mr Kainja Phiri, had fought, as part of the forces of the British and Allies, members of the Japanese military. They had told us stories of their ground engagement with determined and tough, and sometimes rough, Japanese military persons.
But we were unhappy with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every August, I remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More and more, I tried to understand the factors around the events. We also felt the effect on those American military persons that had been sent to deliver such harsh devices.
In the 1990s, when I was on the MA Peace Studies programme at Bradford University, I learnt more about the strategic events affecting both the Japanese and Allies.
Some factors were understandable but still disturbing. I also discussed issues with some classmates who had come from Japan. They were largely pacifists. They explained more details about the events of August 1945.
Questions and thoughts continue within me. Over decades, amongst some thoughts I have had in me were: most of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic device victims, hundreds of thousands of them, were non-combatants. The atomic weapon has been the biggest weapon of mass destruction. Why did the US forces use weapons of mass destruction to target places overwhelmed by non-combatants?
Has the effect of the atomic device been proportionate to the danger the allies wanted to conquer? Wasn’t the atomic device an excessive force, especially when two were done within days, even after showing at Hiroshima that the weapon and effects were terrible?
How could it be that after knowing the destruction that had come upon Hiroshima by the atomic bomb dropped by the American authorities, they would again, three days later, make another attack at Nagasaki?
I have always wondered what the United States President, then Harry Truman, and those who ordered and arranged the bombing, especially the second detonation at Nagasaki, felt around the time and later. What persons would follow on with imposing such destruction after such first evidence at Hiroshima?
Why were the weapons dropped, even when some accounts indicate that the Japanese authorities were about to surrender?
In fact, why was the atomic weapon dropped in Japan? Even though it would also not have been good to do so elsewhere, why was it piloted on Japan and not another war aggressor – war-lord Hitler’s Nazi ruled Germany? Issues about appropriateness and effects would still have applied even if Germany had been the target.
Were persons in Japan considered less human than the makers of the atomic devices?
The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still happen in current times and in various situations. Many civilians are killed as armed forces, government and non government, target opponents. And excessive force continues to be used even where not necessary.
Technological advancements have produced weapons that are still used for mass killings. As during the time of Hiroshima and Hitler’s Germany, technology and social engineering have led to destruction of fellow human beings and imbalances in humanity.
Nuclear weapons consume huge finances and resources as some governments try to reach positions of dominance and “deterrence” while people in their own societies and elsewhere are in great need and feeling threatened and unsafe.
Seventy years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the size and scales, sites, times, and weapons may differ, but we still must desire to put an end to war and violence waged by governments and non-governmental forces.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and peace issues.
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GCB, Lusaka. Wednesday August 05th, 2015.