Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.

B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)

New Scientist, May 21, 1964

The 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima

Recorded: August 6th, 2020


It is 75 years since the American air force plane, Enola Gay, dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in western Japan. Three days later another was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Somewhere between 150,000 and 220,000 people were killed:

And in the past few hours a ceremony in Hiroshima has marked the anniversary of the bombing. There's been a silent prayer at the exact time the first nuclear weapon hit the city. The coronavirus pandemic has forced a scaling back of ceremonies to honour the victims.

The experience 75 years ago left Japan with a strong anti-nuclear movement that endures to this day. But the remaining survivors are worried the lessons of the 6th of August 1945 are being forgotten. From Tokyo, Rupert Winfield Hayes:

Hirotomi Igarashi is a right-wing Japanese nationalist who says it's time for his country to develop its own nuclear weapon. The group he leads is one of around one thousand ultra nationalist organisations in Japan dedicated to scrapping the post war pacifist constitution and the alliance with the United States.

We need to acquire nuclear weapons so that the bomb will never be dropped on our homeland again, especially now with the threat from China. China has some 300 nuclear missiles aiming at Japan and we have North Korea. That country is like a mad man holding a knife.

On August the 6th, Japan stops to remember what happened in Hiroshima, to mourn the tens of thousands who were incinerated, and to recommit itself to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

What happened to you when the, when the bomb exploded?

I was...

At 83 Keiko Ogura is one of a dwindling number of survivors who witnessed the destruction with their own eyes. She is worried that as memories fade Japan's commitment to never building nuclear weapons is weakening.

Survivors have, have a strong fear because, you know, we have many power plants that means there are materials, plutonium we have and we have, erh, technology to create nuclear weapons. Might be easy if we said go now.

If it wanted to, experts believe that Japan could build a nuclear weapon very quickly. It has a stockpile of 47 tonnes of plutonium, more than any other nonnuclear weapon state.

The whole issue of nuclear weapons is still taboo here, even to talk about. But the view that Japan may one day need to build its own nuclear deterrent goes well beyond the far right fringe, even into parts of the ruling Liberal Democratic party. And the logic is simple. Japan faces real and growing threats, from North Korea and from an increasingly aggressive and well armed China. And since President Trump's election, America's commitment to protect Japan under its nuclear umbrella looks increasingly shaky.

For the first time in post war history there is now a president in the white house who has openly and repeatedly said it's time for Japan to defend itself.

I think that is the biggest change and the biggest cause for concern. And, if Japan is moving in a direction of relying more on its own capabilities, I believe that's primarily because of a loss of, of, of credibility in, in US security guarantees.

For the 75 years since Hiroshima Japan has lived under American protection. Now it is beginning to wonder what would happen if the Americans really went home. Rupert Winfield Hayes, BBC News, in Tokyo.


This video could be used to illustrate the difference between facts, opinions and assumptions. The logic of mutual assured destruction is implicitly accepted as is the notion of the US protecting Japan with it's nuclear umbrella, whatever that is.

For an alternative to the real and growing threats narrative and the vapid description of the bombing have a read of John Pilger's Another Hiroshima is Coming — Unless We Stop It Now.

getfiles: The 75th Anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

MP4 (Full HD Video), 101 mb