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Why were Hiroshima and Nagasaki chosen?

Where atomic bomb was dropped

Why were Hiroshima and Nagasaki chosen?

Why Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen for atomic bombing.

Why were Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed? The U.S. wanted Japan to surrender as quickly as possible to minimize U.S. military casualties. In addition, the Soviet Union’s participation in the war against Japan was secretly agreed upon at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and the U.S. wanted to drop the atomic bomb on Japan before the Soviets’ participation, to gain a dominant position in the world after the war. Furthermore, it was necessary to show the U.S. public that the atomic bomb, which had cost $2 billion, had led to the end of the war. In the spring of 1945, a study of target cities began. Several cities were selected based on how effectively damage could be inflicted. Further air raids on these target cities were prohibited.

Why Hiroshima was chosen for atomic bombing

In the spring of 1945, the research on possible target cities of atomic bombing began and several cities were selected. Further air raids on these target cities were prohibited once these cities were selected.

In particular, Hiroshima was chosen as the very first target of the atomic bomb because it was the only city without an Allied Prison of War camp among the selected cities.

There are some other reasons why Hiroshima was chosen:

  • The city had not been attacked by major air raids in the past.
  • There were military forces and military factories.
  • The area was flat terrain extending in all directions. Therefore, the topography of Hiroshima as well as the size of the city were optimal for testing the destructive power of the atomic bomb and for verifying its effectiveness after the bombing.
  • The population of Hiroshima was quite dense therefore it was suitable in terms of getting statistics on the number of casualties and other victims of radiation.

Why Nagasaki was chosen for atomic bombing

Some say that Nagasaki was chosen as the target of the atomic bombing because the Mitsubishi Shipyard, which built two of Japan’s largest battleships was located there.

However, Nagasaki was originally chosen as the third target for atomic bombing because its population  was much smaller than those of Hiroshima and Kokura which was the second target and there was also a prisoner-of-war camp there.

The U.S. bomber B-29 “Boxcar,” loaded with the plutonium bomb “Fat Man,” reached the skies over Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture on August 9. Here it met up with an observation plane and headed for its primary target, Kokura, present Kitakyushu City, in Fukuoka Prefecture, where the largest weapons factory in western Japan was located at the time. However, the weather was not good and they could not see the city.

Since the dropping of the atomic bombs was to be done by visual confirmation, not by radar, they gave up on Kokura and changed the destination to Nagasaki, which was their second target.

  • As of July 21, 1945 the target cities were Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata.
  • On July 22, 1945 Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki, and Niigata were determined to be targets, and Kyoto was removed from the list.

Differences between the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima used uranium and was called “Little Boy”  because of its small size. On the other hand, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was made of plutonium and was called “Fat Man” because of its appearance.

Comparison of Atomic bomb energy

Hiroshima: TNT equivalent of approx. 12.5 kilotons

Nagasaki: TNT equivalent of approx. 22.0 kilotons

Number of deaths in 1945 (estimated)

Hiroshima: 140,000 (Population at that time was approx. 350,000)

Nagasaki Approx. 74,000 (Population at that time was about 240,000)

Date of A-bombing

Hiroshima: August 6, 1945, 8:15 a.m.

Nagasaki: August 9, 1945, 11:02 a.m.

Why Tokyo was not selected for nuclear bombing.

If the atomic bomb is dropped on Tokyo and the entire political function of Japan is lost.

there would be no entity left to accept the surrender and order a cease-fire.

This would make it even more difficult to end the war. It was therefore necessary to retain the administrative entity as a negotiating partner. In addition, Tokyo had originally been destroyed in a massive air raid.

  • The mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb can only be seen in black and white on documentary film, but witnesses from towns a short distance away from Hiroshima and Nagasaki testified that it was actually rainbow-colored.
  • The present Atomic Bomb Dome where the bomb landed was built in 1915 to serve as a base for the promotion of Hiroshima Prefecture’s products, and was originally named “Hiroshima Prefecture Products Exhibition Hall” when it was first established.

City of Nagasaki today

The city of Nagasaki today

Learn the reason why atomic bombs were dropped on Japan.




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