Sunday 9 August 2015

Nagasaki + 70: Kokura's luck

70 years ago today, Nagasaki was hit in the world's second atomic bomb attack, and the phrase 'Kokura's luck' entered the Japanese language. The city of Kokura was the target for the attack, but when the American B-29 bomber reached it, it was shrouded in haze.

So the aircraft flew on another 90 miles to Nagasaki, and, finding a gap in the clouds, dropped 'Fat Man' - a more powerful bomb than the one used on Hiroshima. Thanks to better air raid precautions and because the bomb was detonated about two miles from its intended point, it caused fewer casualties, though it still killed about 40,000. 

Nagasaki was a centre for Roman Catholicism in Japan, and a revered Catholic priest, Takashi Nagai pointed to the great hole gouged out by the bomb, and said the Japanese themselves were to blame for it: 'We dug it to the rhythm of military marches.'

Over the years that followed, perhaps 80,000 died from the bomb's longer term effects. For a long time, many of the sick and injured received no government support, and even when that was put right, 10,000 Korean victims had to wait another 11 years before they got help, and even then on very restrictive terms.

For more on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, see A Disastrous History of the World.

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