The “Black Rain” – A Re-assessment on the Dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” on Japan, pp. 4 of 8

There is also the racist explanation - the intense desire of the superior white Americans to show off their imperial might to the yellow, “little people” of the East. Truman stated bluntly: “When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast” (quoted in Hume, 1995: 18). The simian image depicting the Japanese was given full coverage in Western iconography. Political cartoons and poster propaganda were widely used by the British and Americans (similarly, by the Japanese too) to depict the evil enemy. Such was the racial overtone that prevailed throughout the years of conflict between the Anglo-Americans and the Japanese in Asia. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, long-standing antipathies of Westerners towards coloured races in general, and East Asians in particular, were focused on the Japanese. In Asia, Japan was castigated for subjugating the native people of Dutch Indonesia, British Hong Kong, Malaya and Burma, America's Philippines, and French Indochina. The string of Japanese military successes destroyed the notions of racial superiority and invincibility of the Western imperialists. The Allied Powers were beaten and humiliated by an Asian power and before the eyes of their colonial subjects. It is interesting to note that there is no mention of the issue of racism in World War Two in the history textbooks used in Singapore's secondary schools. Why is this so?  Is it because of the sensitivity generated by the teaching and learning of such a theme within a multi-racial society? Is it because the curriculum planners feel that our pupils are too young to understand and appreciate such "adult" issues? An open discussion of racism and the racial thinking behind the atrocities of the Pacific War (and not forgetting Hitler's extermination of the Jews and the Russians) has its educational values. Such discussions provide opportunities for pupils to explore and debate on historical controversies and, on a more philosophical level, the question of how men should live.

 Finally, there is the “atomic diplomacy” motivation.  The bomb was used not to end the war with Japan but an effort to intimidate Stalin and Soviet Union (Alperovitz, 1994; Miscamble, (2017). The possession of the bomb changed the American strategy towards the Soviet Union at the Potsdam Conference (17 July to 2 August 1945) and set in motion the beginning of the Cold War. Truman had told Stalin that the US had a powerful new weapon, though he did not provide details. More than anything else, the atomic bomb had become a symbol of American prowess and power. After Hiroshima, Stalin realized the strategic importance of the bomb and demanded that Soviet scientists worked doubly hard to give him the atomic bomb. In the morning of 29 August 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its atomic bomb in northeastern Kazakhstan. The Cold War was launched.

While we narrate to our pupils how the Japanese Imperial Forces inflicted sufferings on the Chinese in Singapore, should we not also tell them the aftermath of the bomb on the Japanese, bearing in mind that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were largely populated with civilians? What happened at ground-zero immediately after the detonation? Thousands of people were instantly carbonized in a blast that was thousands of times hotter than the sun's surface; further from the epicenter, birds ignited in mid-flight, eyeballs popped and internal organs were sucked from bodies of victims. At an instance, 70% of Hiroshima was charred. Based on the first-hand accounts, including that of Hachiyo Michihiko, a doctor who survived the Hiroshima bomb and recorded what he saw and heard in his Hiroshima Diary, John Dower (2012) describes the image of the nuclear hell:

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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