This posting about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is also interesting:
Unlike many other bombing raids, the goal for this raid had not been a military installation but rather an entire city. The atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima killed civilian women and children in addition to soldiers. Hiroshima's population has been estimated at 350,000; approximately 70,000 died immediately from the explosion and another 70,000 died from radiation within five years.I imagine the writer would be shocked to learn 67 cities had already gotten the same treatment.
Also, the Wikipedia page on the bombing of Tokyo has several photographs and maps.
There was an interesting omission in a Yahoo News article I read today:
Nuclear radiation is an especially sensitive issue for Japanese following the country's worst human catastrophe -- the U.S. atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.I'd tend to think that attacks on two cities - even atomic attacks - paled in comparison to the firebombing of 67 Japanese cities in the spring and summer of 1945. I was out with a Canadian and an American who were both nuclear refugees from Japan on Saturday night and the topic of how the firebombing of Japan had been pretty much forgotten in the west came up. My sister taught in Oita ten years ago and wondered if the city had been bombed during the war. I was never able to find out until I watched The Fog of War, which can be seen here. The firebombing of Japan is discussed for about 8 minutes starting around the 33:00 point. At one point it lists all of the cities bombed along with the percentage of the city destroyed (Oita's figure is 28.2%). Obviously having a lot of time on my hands, (predating this blog) I decided to make a map. It came up in discussion the other night, so I'd thought I'd post it - I just didn't expect the omission mentioned above to appear as I was doing so.
I wonder to what degree the firebombing is dealt with in Japan's memory of the war. As Michael Hurt reiterated recently, the memory of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the only time nuclear weapons have been used on civilian targets - has allowed Japan to portray itself as a victim, so I'm curious if the firebombing has been downplayed at all in Japan, or in its presentation of its history to outsiders. Certainly, when westerners think of firebombing, Dresden or Hamburg come to mind - suffering firebombing wasn't a unique experience, even if was used to far more devastating effect in Japan.
This also brings to mind how the bombing of North Korea during the Korean War has been forgotten as well, though in the North's case, as Brian Myers has argued, it has also been omitted in North Korea's portrayal of the war to its own people, as massive bombing doesn't quite gel with the concept of Kim Il-sung being a protective leader and skilled general.