Japan | Bombing Hiroshima prevented a greater human catastrophe

Bombing Hiroshima prevented a greater human catastrophe

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It was a bomb that switched off all the colors and turned everything the gray dust of black and white. It was the fire that came from the darkest nightmares of Shiva the destroyer. It was the end of the gods; it was death after death.

It was more than the 100,000 people killed by a single explosion, more than the geometric science of annihilation. Nothing survived. All living things but also buildings, concrete, and steel were turned into deadly powder that could poison with mortal radiation anything or anybody for years.

And yet unleashing this power was so earth-shattering that the spectacle crushed the resistance of the Japanese, who until then had vowed to all die rather than surrender their homeland, almost holy, to foreign invaders. The power of Shiva, the poison of the anti-God serpent powder, saved the lives of millions Americans, Japanese, and Chinese et cetera who would have perished in a protracted, primitive, hand-to-hand, bloody fully colored fight.

Imperial Japan had to be stopped, as were fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Japan had started World War II in 1937 by invading China, and it was determined to take over all of Asia and from there the world, in a fashion parallel to that of their comrades in Italy and Germany. If fascism had not been blocked, the world would now be a much uglier place.

Then, those 100,000 martyrs not only saved Japan, they also prevented greater slaughters in the subsequent confrontation between liberal democracies and Stalinist communism. Neither NATO nor Moscow dared to declare a full war in the following four and half decades for fear of seeing again and many times more the ghastly picture of the Nothing of Hiroshima.

The Japanese people who died in Hiroshima or in the battlefields of half of Asia were not victims of the bomb any more than anybody who is shot is a victim of Mr. Colt, the inventor of the revolver. They were victims of a murderous regime that intended to conquer the world and vanquish all those who stood in its way. Yet what the bomb left was a nation more scared than ever.

Squeezed between high, rough mountains and stormy seas, sitting on a land that shudders every now and again, with tsunamis threatening from the oceans and volcanoes erupting from the forests, the Japanese for centuries eked out a living between contrasting and converging fears and risks, pulled and pushed from every side. And those fears were used to create panic and fright in all the Asian countries invaded by very scary Japanese troops.

Hiroshima added a new set of scares: the sky, with bombs, could also kill. Moreover, Japan was now squeezed from two sides: not only the old local superpower, China, to the west, but also the new superpower, America, to the east.

To survive and prosper among so many dangers and anxieties, as Japan had so far, seems a work of magic, perhaps a miracle of the Goddess Amataratsu, who holds the sun to protect Japan and did so 70 years ago by pushing the Japanese generals to admit defeat and surrender.

In fact, if Japan had not surrendered, it might have been invaded by the Russians, who had just steamrolled imperial troops in Manchuria and could have easily landed in Hokkaido thus dividing the country into a communist north loyal to Moscow and a pro-American south, much like what happened to Germany, split between east and west. Moreover, the descent of Soviet troops on China would have bound the Chinese Communist Party closer to Moscow, who possibly would have imposed on China larger territorial concessions to the USSR.

Some Japanese may want to use the horrible massacre of August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima to justify the senseless regime that caused all of that. Still the attempts of those few should not hide the justified concerns and worries of every Japanese for his or her present and future. Then it is also unjust that now some abroad wish to use the horrors committed by past Japanese against contemporary Japanese.

This in the end seems the biggest effect of that bomb: it has put Japan and the rest of the world in a time warp where like in a science fiction novel past, present, and future get confused and manipulated according to differing political agendas. Seventy years should be time enough to set time back in order. Even nuclear radiation after decades decays.

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Francesco Sisci
Francesco Sisci is an Italian sinologist, author and columnist who lives and works in Beijing. He is the contributor for Il Sole 24ore, and a frequent commentator on international affairs for CCTV and Phoenix TV.
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