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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 1 - 7  > US myths about 1945 A-bomb attacks must be exposed as outright lies: Professor
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2018 August 1 - 7 [PEACE]

US myths about 1945 A-bomb attacks must be exposed as outright lies: Professor

August 6, 2018

The U.S. government, military, universities, and newspapers colluded to conceal the facts about the indiscriminate mass killing by the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hiroshima City University Professor of media studies Inoue Yasuhiro said in an interview with Akahata which was carried on August 6.

The excerpts of his interview are as follows:

Because of information manipulation by the U.S. government, many Americans still to this day believe the five myths pertaining to the U.S. atomic bomb attacks on Japan: The attacks were carried out with prior warning and targeted military facilities; shocked by the A-bombings, Japan immediately decided to surrender; as a result, the lives of one million Americans and even more Japanese were saved; the U.S. decision to use nuclear weapons was merciful and according to God’s will; and, there was little negative impact from radiation.

The five myths stemmed from U.S. President Harry Truman’s statement and radio speech which he gave after the A-bomb attack on Hiroshima. He in his statement described the bomb as having “more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T” but made no mention about radiation, obviously in a bid to give the impression that nuclear weapons differ from conventional weapons only in blast power. In addition, Truman in his radio speech said that the U.S government gave the Japanese people “adequate warning” and that the first atomic bomb was “dropped on Hiroshima, a military base”.

Truman’s statement and speech were drafted by a reporter for the New York Times, William Laurence. He was allowed to accompany the atomic bombing mission to Nagasaki. At that time in the U.S., information related to atomic bombs was available only through the information provided by the government or military. Laurence, who was a science writer, received a special favor from the government and was knowledgeable about issues concerning nuclear weapons, including radiation damage.

On September 5, 1945, the London Daily Express ran an article regarding the aftermath of the Hiroshima atomic bombing titled, “The Atomic Plague”, which was written by Wilfred Burchett, an Australian journalist who secretly entered the city after the attack. Describing the plight of local residents, Burchett wrote, “Their hair fell out. (…) And the bleeding began from the ears, nose and mouth.” This report was, however, ignored by the U.S. media. The New York Times on September 13 cited the U.S. military’s claim dismissing any negative radioactive impact in Hiroshima from the A-bombing.

In August 1946, when the atomic bomb myths began taking root in the U.S., the New Yorker carried an article by John Hersey which depicted how the atomic attack victimized citizens and how its negative aftereffects continued to expand. This questioned the fundamental premise of the myths: that the atomic bombings were justifiable because they destroyed military facilities and as a result shortened the agony of war.

In response to the New Yorker article, President of Harvard University James Conant worked to reinforce the myths. He advised Henry Stimson to contribute an article to the February 1947 issue of Harper’s Magazine. Stimson was Secretary of War, what is now Secretary of Defense, during the Second World War. He was thought to have contributed to the victory and was a very influential person at that time. His article explained why the U.S. had to use atomic bombs by citing the government’s confidential documents, but only picking passages that supported the myths and ignoring the rest.

One of the facts disregarded in the article was a decision by the Interim Committee which was headed by Stimson which effectively decided how atomic bombs should be put to use. The committee recommended that the bomb should be used without prior warning and dropped on a military plant surrounded by houses. This indicates that the atomic bombing was aimed to damage densely populated areas and a large number of civilians.

An opinion poll carried out in the U.S. just after the atomic bomb attacks showed that 85% of Americans supported the use of the bombs. The percentage approving still stood at 56% in 2015. As long as a majority of the public believe the use of atomic bombs is acceptable, the U.S. government will not take one step forward toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. Now that the nuclear weapons ban treaty has been adopted at the United Nations, the need is to shatter the U.S. myths concerning the atomic bombings.
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