Issues: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombings

A U.S. B-29 bomber named the Enola Gay dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.  Three days later, on August 9, the United States dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.  Tens-of-thousands perished instantly in the two bombings, and hundreds of thousands were injured and suffered long-term illnesses.  The fact that the U.S. dropped these powerful weapons on Japan to end the war has been the focus of much debate in its own right, but some specific issues have arisen out of the atomic bombings that deserve to be highlighted.  These are presented below.


Hiroshima and Nagasaki Museums

The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan are the only two cities to have experienced the devastation of an atomic bomb.  Every year on August 6 (Hiroshima) and August 9 (Nagasaki), these cities remember the atomic bombings and those who perished.  Both cities constructed museums to not only remember those two days, but also to serve as an educational memorial to remind people of the consequences of war.

Please refer to the following links for more detailed descriptions of these museums.

Hiroshima Peace Museum and Peace Park

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum


The Enola Gay Smithsonian Exhibit

In 1994, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. planned to open an exhibit in 1995 marking the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII.  The name of the exhibit was entitled, "The Crossroads: The End of WWII, the atomic bomb, and the Cold War."  The centerpiece to this exhibit was to be a restored Enola Gay. 

A controversy ensued because of the inability to come to a common interpretation of historical events surrounding the Enola Gay.  Members of this controversy included Air Force officials, Paul Tibbets (pilot of the Enola Gay), U.S. Congressmen, historians, museum curators, and the Japanese.  Questions surrounding the exhibit included, among other concerns, whether the exhibit should celebrate the past or act as an education tool about the consequences of war as well as whether the 50th anniversary should focus on the victors or victims.

The controversy continued for almost one year.  In the end, the Smithsonian Institute cancelled their plans for the exhibit and replaced it with a much more agreeable, less controversial exhibit that opened on June 28, 1995.  But this action too came with controversy as those against the initial exhibit praised their actions while groups supporting the initial exhibit protested their decision to back down.  The exhibit closed on May 18, 1998. 

Please refer to the following websites for more information on the Enola Gay and the Enola Gay exhibit.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum online exhibit.
Enola Gay: Former Exhibition

Official Website of General Paul Tibbets
Enola Gay Remembered, Inc.


Kwak Kwi Hoon court case

The Kwak Kwi Hoon court case represents a successful attempt by an individual to obtain compensation for injury sustained while residing in Hiroshima during the atomic bombing.  Please refer to the following link for a more detailed description of the court case.

Kwak Kwi Hoon vs. the Japanese National Government and the Osaka Prefectural Government