Jane Braxton: Coming of Age with Hiroshima's Mourning

Roundup: Talking About History

[After teaching at Wakayama University, Jane Braxton Little earned a Harvard M.A. in Japanese cultural history.]

...I might not have noticed the woman with the cropped hair and ill-fitting gray silk dress if a cameraman hadn't zoomed in on her. She was stooped, seated in a cobblestone courtyard on folded legs before a black-and-white family photograph flanked by vases of golden chrysanthemums. In my eyes she looked old but she could have been middle-aged, a young mother on Aug. 6, 1945....

In the shadow of the bombed-out hulk of the six-story Atomic Dome — one block from the Peace Museum entombing the outlines of children's bodies radiated into the sidewalks where they happened to be captured at 8:15 a.m. on their way to school — there in the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park, I became this woman's token American aggressor.

It was my government, my president who unleashed the horror of the atom bomb on Japan. It was my country, my people who turned her home into an inferno roiling with flames that seared the living and the unborn alike. We — I — had murdered her daughter, her only son, her aged father and over 100,000 members of her national family. Her voice swelled from tight-lipped anger into furious rage before it struck a high-pitched frenzy, keening from word to word like an atomic wind leveling everything in its path....

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Lewis Bernstein - 8/13/2010

That's exactly right Ms Braxton. And it was her country that attacked Pearl Harbor, engaged in biological warfare in China, perpetrated the Nanjing Massacre and the Bataan Death March, kidnapped women - Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, East Indian, Malayan,and European, and forced them into prostitution (comfort women). It was Japan that used allied prisoners as slave laborers and conscripted / kidnapped Asian laborers to work on the Burma-Siam railway.
There were many atrocities in that war but using the atom bomb was not one of them. The bomb was used to end the war for the goal was not the cessation of hostilities but victory. Further if nuclear weapons were not used in this instance, they may have been later used by someone who thought they were merely more powerful explosives.
While your heart goes out the that woman in Hiroshima you apparently have no room in it for the suffering the Japanese brought to countless millions, Melanesians, Chinese, Filipinos, Burmese, Vietnamese in their drive to conquer Asia.