Nagasaki Memorial Day
Observed annually on August 9th, Nagasaki Memorial Day is a holiday that commemorates the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945, by the United States. The bombing of this city killed 74,000 people, wounded thousands more, and left an unbelievable wake of destruction.
This is not just a day for the Japanese people to remember this tragic event, however. It’s also a day that many Japanese citizens use to draw international attention to the event and push for the eventual banning of nuclear weapons. It’s also a day that’s marked by solemn ceremonies and exhibitions.
The History of Nagasaki Memorial Day in Japan
U.S. President Harry Truman formed a Target Committee to decide which Japanese cities would be bombed with the two atomic devices that were built, Little Boy and Fat Man. This committee originally didn’t choose Nagasaki as one of its top two choices.
Their first choice for a target was the city of Hiroshima, but they thought that Kokura would be a good second choice because of a munitions factory operating on the island of Kyushu. Nagasaki was the third choice because it had two Mitsubishi military factories.
As the U.S. attempted to drop the second bomb on Kokura, they ran into heavy cloud cover and extensive anti-aircraft fire. This is why they decided to switch from Kokura to the city of Nagasaki. Clouds also partially obscured this city as well, but at the last second, a hole opened up in the clouds and this allowed Fat Man to be detonated over the city at 11:02 a.m. local time.
Fat Man exploded at an altitude of 1,650 feet above Nagasaki with a total yield of 21 kilotons. Everything within a mile of ground zero was instantly obliterated, and fourteen thousand homes burst into flames. 40,000 people were killed by the initial blast, and another 30,000 people died by 1946. Within the next five years, over 100,000 people would die from that bomb dropped over the city of Nagasaki.
Observing Nagasaki Memorial Day in Japan
This day is observed mainly at Nagasaki Peace Park in Nagasaki, Japan, although Japanese citizens all over the country keep this day in mind. It’s a day of mourning and remembrance for those who lost their lives during the bombing of Nagasaki, and a day for everyone to work towards the eventual end of nuclear weapons being used in times of war.