August 05, 2009

Hiroshima: The Big Picture

Tomorrow, August 6th, marks 64 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan by the United States at the end of World War II. Targeted for military reasons and for its terrain (flat for easier assessment of the aftermath), Hiroshima was home to approximately 250,000 people at the time of the bombing. The U.S. B-29 Superfortress bomber "Enola Gay" took off from Tinian Island very early on the morning of August 6th, carrying a single 4,000 kg (8,900 lb) uranium bomb codenamed "Little Boy". At 8:15 am, Little Boy was dropped from 9,400 m (31,000 ft) above the city, freefalling for 57 seconds while a complicated series of fuse triggers looked for a target height of 600 m (2,000 ft) above the ground. At the moment of detonation, a small explosive initiated a super-critical mass in 64 kg (141 lbs) of uranium. Of that 64 kg, only .7 kg (1.5 lbs) underwent fission, and of that mass, only 600 milligrams was converted into energy - an explosive energy that seared everything within a few miles, flattened the city below with a massive shockwave, set off a raging firestorm and bathed every living thing in deadly radiation. Nearly 70,000 people are believed to have been killed immediately, with possibly another 70,000 survivors dying of injuries and radiation exposure by 1950. Today, Hiroshima houses a Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum near ground zero, promoting a hope to end the existence of all nuclear weapons.


November 19, 2008

Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs

One rainy night eight years ago, in Watertown, Massachusetts, a man was taking his dog for a walk. On the curb, in front of a neighbor's house, he spotted a pile of trash: old mattresses, cardboard boxes, a few broken lamps. Amidst the garbage he caught sight of a battered suitcase. He bent down, turned the case on its side and popped the clasps.

He was surprised to discover that the suitcase was full of black-and-white photographs. He was even more astonished by their subject matter: devastated buildings, twisted girders, broken bridges - snapshots from an annihilated city. He quickly closed the case and made his way back home.

At the kitchen table, he looked through the photographs again and confirmed what he had suspected. He was looking at something he had never seen before: the effects of the first use of the Atomic bomb. The man was looking at Hiroshima.

In a dispassionate and scientific style, the seven hundred and one photographs inside the suitcase catalogued a city seared by a new form of warfare. The origin and purpose of the photographs were a mystery to the man who found them that night. Now, over sixty years after the bombing of Hiroshima, their story can be told. more...


March 19, 2008

2020 Vision Campaign

The 2020 Vision Campaign was launched in 2003 by Mayors for Peace, an international association led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The purpose of the campaign is to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020. We have been quite successful at the UN and mayoral levels, but in order to succeed with our ambitious goal we absolutely must extend the campaign to the grassroots level. To do that, we need to raise more money for the campaign than Hiroshima and Nagasaki can provide on their own. Amazingly, the two A-bombed cities have donated more than a quarter of a million dollars each year to Mayors for Peace!

At present, Mayors for Peace has more than 2020 member cities in 127 countries. If we could raise a mere 1000 dollars from each member city, we would have $2 million. With that, we could greatly increase our capacity to raise public awareness and create the political will that just might prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Based on feedback from several of our 116 US members, we believe the most effective way to get 1000 dollars from each American city is for the residents to raise $500, then take that $500 to the mayor and ask him or her to match it. So, what we are suggesting is:
  1. Go to and find out if your mayor is a member of Mayors for Peace. If so, go directly to step 4. 
  2. If your mayor is NOT a member, contact Mihoko Ishizaki at: Tell her you want to approach your mayor, and she will send you a recruiting package. (You can decide together whether you want it by physical mail or email.) Please also contact Mayors for Peace U.S. coordinator Jackie Cabasso at: and let her know what youre planning. 
  3. Gather a small group of constituents, visit your mayor and ask him or her to join Mayors for Peace. My guess is that most mayors will say yes. 
  4. Fill in the application and get Hiroshima to send you the exhibition materials (A-bomb posters, CDs, DVDs and books). 
  5. Find a room or corridor or even an outdoor space where you can put up about 35 posters (each poster is 3 feet by 2 feet). Hopefully, the exhibition can stay up for at least a couple weeks, but even if you have to put it up and take it down the same day, it would make for a good event. 
  6. Choose a day, invite a speaker, invite a poet or musician, and hold a 2020 Vision Campaign Fundraising Party. Please feel free to contact Jackie for ideas. 
  7. If you can get 50 people to give you $10, or 100 people to give you $5, or five people to give you $100, you will have your $500. If you get a few more people to give you a little more, you will have enough to pay yourself back for whatever you spend on the party. 
  8. When you have the $500, contact us and we will give you a letter from Mayors for Peace to your mayor asking him or her to match your $500. Take your money and the letter to your mayor and ask for the match. We are quite optimistic that your mayor will be happy to give it to you. Then, send us the $1000, and your city will have done its duty for the 2020 Vision Campaign! 
For more information about Mayors for Peace and the 2020 Vision Campaign, please go to: and

Whether you hold a fundraising party, a peoples hearing or neither, please think of some way to use our exhibition materials to raise consciousness and help us protect our collective future. Detailed information about our A-bomb exhibitions and an application form are at: and Please help Hiroshima get this message out: What happened to us is so horrible that it must never happen to anyone else. No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more Hibaksusha! The battle against nuclear weapons is one we can and must win.

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August 06, 2007

62 years ago...

Today marks the 62th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb, Little Boy, on the city of Hiroshima. To learn more about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, visit our companion website, Hiroshima & Nagasaki Remembered.

We think it is time once again to reflect on this event and focus ourselves towards a more peaceful co-existence.

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July 22, 2007

New film coming on HBO

Today, with the world's arsenal capable of repeating the destruction at Hiroshima 400,000 times over, Steven Okazaki (the Oscar®-winning "Days of Waiting") revisits the bombings and their aftermath in the exclusive HBO presentation WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN: THE DESTRUCTION OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI. Debuting MONDAY, AUG. 6 (7:30-9:00 p.m. ET/PT), the 62nd anniversary of the bombings, the powerful documentary provides a graphic, unflinching look at the reality of nuclear warfare through first-hand accounts of both survivors and American men who carried out the bombing missions.

Other HBO playdates: Aug. 7 (noon, 10:00 p.m.), 11 (noon), 13 (11:30 a.m., 11:00 p.m.), 19 (3:00 p.m.) and 22 (4:00 p.m.).

HBO2 playdates: Aug. 9 (6:00 p.m.), 16 (12:30 a.m.) and 20 (8:00 p.m.).

Time to figure out my DVR... For more on film, visit]

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February 19, 2007

Hiroshima and Nagasaki for College Teachers

A Nuclear Workshop: "Hiroshima and Nagasaki for College Teachers"
A One-week Workshop, June 25--29, 2007.
Resources and planning for a general education course or units dealing with All Things Nuclear and The Legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Guide: Raymond G. Wilson, Ph.D., Emeritus Associate Professor, Physics Department,
Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL 61702.
Supported by The Cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and friends of the workshop.
Enrollment deadline, May 15.

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February 13, 2006

Book Review: Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima

Book CoverWritten by BBC filmmaker Stephen Walker, who won an Emmy for his documentary on the bombing of Hiroshima, Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima is a fast paced engaging book about the period of time from the Trinity Test through the events of August 6th. The story is told from many points of view-from the eyes of the pilots, the victims, the scientists and world leaders. The book begins in the New Mexico desert, as the first atomic bomb is detonated. With this success, the wheels begin to turn toward the first atomic attacks on Japan.

Shockwave is a tightly written book that gives the reader a sense of the tension that was felt by the scientists at Los Alamos, at the top-secret airbase on the island of Tinian, and Potsdam-where Truman, Churchill, and Stalin were meeting to decide Japan's fate. Walker also takes us to Hiroshima before that fateful day, where he introduces us to several residents, including; a soldier named Toshiaki Tanaka, Taeko Nakamae, a female soldier, and a doctor named Shuntaro Hida. We are also taken to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, where Walker depicts a Japanese leadership torn by a division between those determined to fight to the last child and a peace faction that made overtures to the Soviet Union to convince America to drop its demand for unconditional surrender.

In the predawn hours of August 6th, a B-29, named for the pilot's mother, leaves Tinian Island, some 1,500 miles from Japan. In its bomb bay is the atomic bomb, dubbed "Little Boy". The target is the untouched city of Hiroshima. With these events, the book turns to the stories of the residents and of the Japanese government. Walker recounts Toshiaki Tanaka’s efforts to locate his wife and child. After locating a neighbor, recognizable only by a telltale belt buckle he had worn, Tanaka saw "two figures, like charcoal sticks, fused together on the ground, facing what was once the doorway [to the family-owned liquor store]." He knew that this was his wife and baby daughter.

Although, some readers may draw comparisons to John Hersey's classic, Hiroshima, this book is a rich and moving account of the end of a race of technological discovery and its impact on the world.

Available at

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